Disease and Local Identity Construction in Early 19th-Century Spain

Friday, January 5, 2018: 3:30 PM
Wilson Room B (Marriott Wardman Park)
Charles Nicholas Saenz, Adams State University
At the turn of the nineteenth century, a series of devastating yellow fever outbreaks wreaked havoc along Spain’s Mediterranean coastline and throughout the Guadalquivir River Basin. Estimates suggest that roughly 100,000 to 120,000 Andalusians perished as a result of yellow fever in this period. My paper will examine how municipal leaders in the small, agricultural communities of southwestern Spain confronted this health crisis at the local level. I argue that the absence of coordinated decision-making at the highest levels of government led local actors to behave in ways that asserted local decision–making in times of crisis. Ultimately, the assertion of local control to resolve a health crisis served as a model to deal with a far more complex political crisis that emerged in 1808 when Napoleon’s armies invaded Spain and toppled the monarchy.
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