IMG_2020James L.A. Webb, Jr. is Professor of History at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.

Jim is a pioneer in the field of historical epidemiology. His work integrates approaches from the biological sciences and the social sciences to produce perspectives that are useful to historians, practitioners, and planners in the field of global public health. He is the founding editor of the series Perspectives on Global Health at the Ohio University Press. He is currently working on an historical epidemiology of diarrheal diseases and interventions.

Jim teaches courses in world history, ecological history, African health history, and global health history.  He is the founding editor of the Series in Ecology and History at the Ohio University Press.  He is the author of The Long Struggle Against Malaria in Tropical Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2014); Global Health In Africa: Historical Perspectives on Disease Control (Ohio University Press, 2013), co-edited with T. Giles-Vernick; Humanity’s Burden: A Global History of Malaria (Cambridge University Press, 2009), Tropical Pioneers: Human Agency and Ecological Change in the Highlands of Sri Lanka, 1800-1900 (Ohio University Press, 2002), and Desert Frontier: Ecological and Economic Change along the Western Sahel, 1600-1850 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1995).


Earlier in 2017, Jim held a six-month writing fellowship at the Rachel Carson Center at the Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU) in Munich, where he completed a first draft of his book manuscript entitled Deep Shit: Human Waste, Infectious Intestinal Disease, and the Sanitation Revolution that Stalled.

In November 2107, Jim will participate in the Hazardous Time-Scapes Workshop at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich where he will present a paper on “The First Great Toxic Pollutant: Water-borne Human Waste.”

In March 2018, Jim, with Iris Borowy of the University of Shanghai, has organized an international workshop that will take place in Shanghai on “From Night Soil to Chemical Fertilizers: Transformations in Asian-Pacific Agriculture.”

Check out Jim’s new essays:

Early Malarial Infections and the First Epidemiological Transition, in Nicole Boivin, Rémy Cressard, and Michael Petraglia (eds.), Human Dispersal and Species Movement from Prehistory to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 477-493.

Aedes aegypti suppression in the Americas- historical perspectivesThe Lancet, Vol. 388 (2016).

Global Health Interventions in Africa, Institute Letter, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, Spring 2016.

Globalization of Disease, 1300 to 1900The Cambridge World History (2015).

The Historical Epidemiology of Contemporary Disease Challenges,  The Lancet, Vol. 385 (2015).