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For him, smallpox had the same disastrous effects among natives than the bubonic plague had among Europeans in the past: He also remarked that the disease was spreading more intensively among settled than among free, isolated or scattered Indians. This observation is especially accurate because, as it was discovered later, smallpox cannot sustain in an endemic form in small and dispersed communities due to certain epidemiological characteristics such as, for instance, the lack of a natural reservoir; the long incubation period twelve to fourteen days but short period of infectiousness; the inability of the variola virus to remain in a latent form within the organism; the absence of virus excretion after the patient recovered from the acute infection; and, finally, the life-long immunity after recovery Fenner, These epidemiological characteristics mean that, in small and isolated communities, smallpox epidemics appear periodically, in waves, depending on the reintroduction of the virus by infected people or objects and the number of susceptible not immunized people.
Last but not least, Martius Finally, he cited the great contribution of intermittent fevers to Indian morbidity and mortality and the depopulation of the Rio Negro region. Those affecting the lower course of the river were so virulent that they were killed in the space of three or four days Spix and Martius, The British explorer and naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace who travelled in the region in wrote the following about the methods used by merchants to recruit Indians: Many of the worst characters in the Rio Negro come to trade in this river, force Indians, by threats of shooting them, into their canoes, and sometimes even do not scruple to carry their threats into execution, they being here quite out of reach of even that minute portion of the law which still struggles for existence in the Rio Negro.
When Aranha took on the presidency of the new Province, there were emigration movements of upper Rio Negro Indians to Venezuela, a fact that he ascribed to the lack of missionaries in the region and to the recurring epidemic outbreaks of measles and intermittent fevers.
One of his tasks was to send Indian village leaders to Manaus to receive letters-of-patent and presents. In return, the latter should send people from their communities to work in the reconstruction of the capital.
He should also entice Indians to leave their traditional longhouses located deep in the forest to resettle in villages and towns located along the middle and lower course of the Rio Negro for building, agriculture, and forest products collection.
A few Indians began to resist and launched vindictive expeditions against white peoples. In retaliation, Cordeiro conducted punitive expeditions with soldiers or with Indians from other ethnic groups. In fact, retaliation or punitive raids were sometimes driven on other purposes: The government of Manaus even asked merchants to procure children of both sexes to sell them as servants, encouraging Indians in this way to make war upon one another Wallace, This period also saw the emergence of messianic movements led by Arawak and Eastern-Tukanoan shaman-prophets who prophesied the end of this world and preached liberty from the political and economic oppression from white peoples.
In his first report on the situation of the Province of Amazonas30 Aranha emphasized the great contribution of intermittent fevers in the annual morbidity and mortality in the region, considering them responsible for the great state of desolation and decadence of villages located along the middle and lower course of the Rio Negro.
In their yearly reports to the President of the Province, some observers directly related the decadence of the Rio Negro region, the decrease of the native population, and the onset of malignant intermittent fevers to the economic and political endeavours of the new Province towards Indians. For instance, Marius Porte, professor of homeopathy, wrote the following: When the capital of the Captaincy was located at Barcelos, the Rio Negro banks were inhabited by white peoples and a lot of Indians and there were some cattle; the river banks were then healthy.
After the transference of the capital to Barra Manausthe government wanted to make it flourishing. For an ephemeral prosperity of a place to the great detriment of another, numerous Indians were brought in and many moradores followed them along with their slaves and Indians workers. Then, the Rio Negro began to be depopulated and intermittent fevers raging along its tributaries started to appear with a benign character in towns and parishes located along its banks.
These fevers killed some Indians while leading others to run away.
The so-called descents were carried on and while the Indian population was diminishing, fevers acquired a more malign character. Today, pernicious intermittent fevers and dysentery do exist in various places of the Rio Negro, acquiring an epidemic character during the river flood and ebb tide.
S1-v-ix A few years later, in his report about the situation of Indian communities dated December 31st,the engineer Joaquim Leovigildo de Souza Coelho synthesised the reasons of the decadence of the Rio Negro region in the following way: From until the present the Rio Negro has been decaying; a great number of villages have disappeared and those still existing are almost abandoned …. This is due in part to the commerce to which Indians indulge themselves, to their fear of recruitment and also, if not in great part, to the arbitrariness committed by sub-delegates and inspectors of villages.
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In some places, intermittent fevers led Indians to desert their villages, to live in other communities or to go deep within the forest. Some villages have disappeared for this reason. Between the city of Barra and Santa Isabel lower course of the Rio Negrothe river is a bit unhealthy. From Santa Isabel up the Rio Negro they are somewhat rare, except near Cucui border frontier with Venezuela which is also subject to this evil.
The President of the Province of Amazonas summarised well the beliefs about fevers in his Report for the year Waters stagnate and there is a decomposition of plants and other bodies which begin to rot, producing pernicious and deleterious effluvium ….
Bad food combined to atmospheric influences are one of the predisposing causes of these morbid affections. Historical records leave no doubt as to the extreme cruelties committed by rubber patrons and traders very often with the absence of reaction from regional civil and military authoritiesthe terror that traders induced among Indians and the impact of wild rubber extraction on demographic, health and socio-economic conditions of native populations: Almost all workers in this extraction site are Indians from different tribes.
They are in a very precarious physical and moral condition, being men of small stature, little robust constitution, and with a little friendly general aspect. Women are extremely ugly sicprematurely aged or, better, bringing since youth stigmas of old age. Extreme indolence predominates in both sexes.
They work only because they are forced to by the patron and without any ambition of fortune, being only driven by their proper care and contented by small gifts of clothing, alcohol etc. Although they also affected white peoples, Indians seemed to suffer the most from them.
As noted by Agassiz and Agassiz: At the beginning of the twentieth century, Cruz also observed the great lethality of the disease in rubber plantations and in riverine communities, pointing out the difficulty to meet an Indian without any sign of a chronic malarial infection. Conclusion In this paper, I have examined the demographic and health consequences of the policies conducted by Portuguese and Brazilian peoples towards upper Rio Negro Indians in the Northwest of Amazonia in Brazil.
The European colonization and its expansion have created the conditions for the eruption of devastating epidemics. Highly destructive for the natives, they had a severe impact on the economic survival of the Portuguese colony and the Brazilian empire.
All along the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, more or less three ancient theories were competing to explain the origin, development, and spread of epidemic diseases: The perceptions of the factors contributing to the emergence of epidemic diseases reviewed in this paper clearly show a mixture of the miasmatic and limited contagionist theories.
My analysis in this paper allows drawing several important conclusions. First, the devastating impacts of epidemic diseases are strongly tied to the Portuguese and Brazilian policies towards natives during the colonization process.
Second, Portuguese and foreign observers, scientists and non-scientists, made significants observations on diseases that proved true centuries later, especially: Ignoring the causes of such biological vulnerability, they resorted over the time to explanations of varying orders: Some observers stated with acute perceptiveness that it was the by-product of sociocultural and economic disruption produced by Portuguese policies towards Indians.
As seen above, Ferreira S1-v-ix directly linked the pernicious character of intermittent fevers to Portuguese endeavours. More recently, Indian susceptibility to smallpox and measles was attributed in part to their genetic homogeneity which eases the adaptation of the disease to new hosts because of their similar immune system Black, It seems evident however that, besides the psycho-social trauma engendered by the contact with the colonists, European colonization and expansion in the upper Rio Negro have inaugurated a series of transformations into the physical and social environments of natives that increased the devastating impact of epidemic diseases: The co-occurrence of epidemic outbreaks and the complications of diseases diarrhoea, for instance, is a frequent complication of measles as it was observed by Chermont, see above also concurred to strengthen their effects.
Alden, Dauril and Miller, Joseph C. The slave trade and the transmission of smallpox to Brazil, The Journal for Interdisciplinary History, vol. Aranha, Bento de Figuereido Tenreiro Howe, George Melvyn ed.
Academic Press, New York and London, pp. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, vol. Bruce-Chwatt, Leonard Jan Coelho, Joaquim Leovigildo de Souza Coudreau, Henri Anatole William and Mary Quarterly, vol. Typographia of Jornal do Commercio, Rio de Janeiro. Translated from the Latin of William Cullen, M. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. Farage, Nadia and Carneiro da Cunha, Manuela Carneiro da Cunha, Manuela org. Editora Brasiliense, Sao Paulo, pp. De contagione et contagiosis morbis.
Ministerio de Cultura, Bogota. University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, pp. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
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Thomas, Nicolas and Humphrey, Caroline eds. William and Mary Quarterlyvol. Reisen in Nordwest-Brasilien Martius, Karl Friedrich Pilipp von Companhia Editora Nacional, Sao Paulo.
The first edition in German was published in under the title Naturell, die Krankheiten, das Arztthum und die Heilmittel der Urberwohner Braziliens. Companhia Editora Nacional, Rio de Janeiro. Penna, Herculano Ferreira ed. Ramos, Barra do Rio Negro, pp. Rego, Jacintho Pereira do Typographia of Amazonas de A.
Rosen, George Santos Filho, Lycurgo de Castro Viagem pelo Brasilvol. Sweet, David Graham A rich realm of nature destroyed: Observationes medicae circa morborum acutorum historiam e curationem.
Vianna, Arthur The history and religion of the Baniwa peoples of the upper Rio Negro Valley. A journey in Brazil. Ticknor and Fields, Boston, Mass. Accessed April 4, Accessed February 14, Accessed February 17, Epps, Patience and Stenzel, Christine eds.
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Laura Greenhalgh, director of Arq. Author of several foreign policy books, including "The interest and the rule: Over the past 20 years, he has served as the director of different cultural institutions in Spain.
She coordinates music education exchange initiatives between Brazil and the United Kingdom. She has worked for major media outlets in Brazil.
She was also the executive editor and columnist for the newspaper, O Estado de S. She is currently a consultant, dedicated to studies and projects in the area of the creative economy. Today, he is the chairman of the Serralves Foundation. Futuro, a Brazilian platform for discussion of the future of cities, partner of BEI Editora and Unear, a technology services company.
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