Cultivating Health in Landscapes of Uncertainty: Mystery Kidney Disease and Agrarian Transformation in Dry Zone Sri Lanka

  • Nari Senanayake Department of Geography, Penn State University
Keywords: Mystery Kidney Disease, Geography, Dry Zone Sri Lanka, Methodology


Since the first reports of a mysterious new form of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKDu) emerged in the early 1990s, Sri Lanka's dry zone has become the epicenter of an epidemic that is slowly crippling agricultural communities across the island's rice belt. In this field report, I provide a detailed description of my fieldwork in two "CKDu hotspots" including an overview of my research design and some preliminary research findings. This work is grounded in feminist methodology and integrates ethnographic and archival fieldwork conducted in the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka over the summers of 2013 and 2015 as well as eleven months of research in Sri Lanka over 2016-17.  This article elaborates on fieldwork that I undertook across a range of sites including libraries, farmers' fields, kidney screening clinics, and government offices. Collectively, an analysis of this data provides a deeper understanding of how the problem of CKDu reconfigures human-environment interactions, subjectivities, and relations of expertise in areas where the disease is endemic.

Author Biography

Nari Senanayake, Department of Geography, Penn State University
PhD Candidate, Department of Geography


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Board Reviewed