The Rule of Experts by Mitchell

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In the each of the three chapters you are reading from Mitchell's The Rule of Experts, how do representations – the ways ideas are presented – have effects on public policies?

In the first chapter, Can the Mosquito Speak?, Mitchell compares the conventional explanation of Egypt’s delayed economic development, which is generally illustrated as the result of the German invasion in WWII, to the idea that the stagnation was equally, if not more, caused by malaria that was brought to the area by mosquitoes. While the war claimed between fifty and seventy thousand lives (Mitchell 19), the number of people who died from malaria is estimated to be between one and two hundred thousand (Mitchell 20). Mitchell argues that the effect of malaria epidemic and mosquitoes has been omitted from Egypt’s history because “mosquito … is said to belong to nature … it cannot speak” (Mitchell 50). The effect of mosquitoes, according to Mitchell, is also important to note because it demonstrates how Great Britain, the traditional colonial power in Egypt at the time, didn’t want to ask the U.S., which had the remedy for malaria, to provide the medication because they feared such request would strengthen the American influence in Egypt (50). Mitchell concludes that in order to explain the policies in Egypt, which handicapped the country’s economic progress, one must take into account not only the effects of humans (the war) but also the results of nonhuman agents (the mosquitoes) that considerably postponed the country’s development. In the second chapter titled as Principles True in Every Country, Mitchell talks about the emergence of private estate in Egypt. According to Mitchell, the conventional “history of private property … presented as a history of legislation, of an abstraction, … has little to say about how private property was actually constituted in a particular place” (57). Mitchell instead explains how, in Egypt, increased international demand for sugar and cotton...
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