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The Immune Home: Domestic Enclaves, Diffuse Protections

By Ann H. Kelly, Javier Lezaun

Cite As:
Kelly, Ann H., and Javier Lezaun. 2021. “The Immune Home: Domestic Enclaves, Diffuse Protections.” Cultural Anthropology 36, no. 4: 563–572.


This essay tracks a paradigm shift in the use of chemicals to control malaria: away from insecticidal approaches, focused on killing mosquitoes within private domestic dwellings, and toward the creation of protective communal atmospheres. An ongoing study of the efficacy of spatial repellents to reduce malaria transmission in rural Tanzania provides an opportunity to rethink the oikographic assumptions of malaria control—and of many global health interventions—and to foreground the specific relationalities of peri-domestic spaces. Yet a sense of moral ambivalence permeates this inquiry, as malaria prevention becomes untethered from any long-lasting material improvement in the house. We reflect on the power of chemicals to reveal chronic forms of neglect and, just possibly, conjugate new, if diffuse, forms of communitas.


malaria; peri-domestic space; chemicals; immune home; critical global health; Tanzania