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Ian William Olivo Read
Soka University of America (Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-8081)

Digital Humanities Fellowships
Research Programs

$75,400 (approved)
$64,600 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2008 – 5/31/2009

A Medical History of Brazil's Era of Epidemics, 1849-1910

This project is a medical history of Brazil between 1849 and 1910, when atypical and deadly epidemics repeatedly struck Brazil. Beyond the enormous toll on life, these epidemics destabilized local, Imperial and Republican politics, and severely disrupted commerce. Historians have argued that the changing disease environment altered government attitudes toward sanitation, slavery, and immigration, but this is the first study to identify where and when these diseases spread or receded, the mechanisms for their movement, and their impact on this nation. To accomplish this, I use tools familiar to historical geographers and public health researchers, such as geographic information system (GIS) programs, network analysis, and infection cluster detection. Such tools have the power to show the topography of epidemics in the past but can also expand our knowledge of the actual etiology of specific diseases such as yellow fever and smallpox