Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-28-2018

Publication Title

Latin American Research Review

Abstract

In this article I focus on the nexus of urbanization, the environment and public health that was exposed by the 1912 bubonic plague epidemic in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I utilize the concept of “urban health penalty,” developed by demographic historians of the industrial revolution in Europe, to account for the declining health of the working class in cities. While in Europe poor health among the urban poor was associated with industrialization, I argue that in San Juan chaotic, unplanned urbanization reflected the effects of colonialism. I further examine how the epidemic exacerbated the class and racial divisions that contributed to the disastrous living conditions, and speculate as to whether the environmental neglect of the neighborhood by authorities was due to the fact that it was home to many poor people of African descent. I also highlight the varying understandings of the causes and appropriate responses to plague.

En este artículo me centro en el nexo de la urbanización, el medio ambiente y la salud pública que fue expuesto por la epidemia de peste bubónica de 1912 en San Juan, Puerto Rico. Utilizo el concepto de “urban health penalty” desarrollado por los historiadores demográficos de la revolución industrial en Europa, para explicar la disminución de la salud de la clase trabajadora en las ciudades. Mientras que en Europa la mala salud de los pobres urbanos estaba asociada con la industrialización, sostengo que en San Juan la urbanización caótica y no planeada reflejaba los efectos del colonialismo. Examino además cómo la epidemia exacerbó las divisiones de clase y raza que contribuyeron a las desastrosas condiciones de vida y pregunto si la negligencia ambiental del vecindario por parte de las autoridades se debía al hecho de que era el hogar de muchos pobres de ascendencia africana. También resalto los diversos entendimientos de las causas y las respuestas apropiadas a la peste.

Volume

53

Issue

3

First Page

500

Last Page

516

DOI

doi.org/10.25222/larr.424

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rights

Copyright: © 2018 The Author(s).

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