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Epidemiology and the People’s HealthTheory and Context$
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Nancy Krieger

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195383874

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195383874.001.0001

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Epidemiology Emerges

Epidemiology Emerges

Early Theories and Debating Determinants of Disease Distribution—Poison, Filth, Class, & Race (1600–1900)

Bodies Count: Epidemiology Emerges as a Self-Defined Scientific Discipline

Chapter:
(p.58) 3 Epidemiology Emerges
Source:
Epidemiology and the People’s Health
Author(s):

Nancy Krieger (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195383874.003.0003

Chapter 3 analyzes epidemiology's emergence as a self-designated discipline in early modern Europe. It discusses how epidemiologic thinking was revolutionized by: (1) acceptance of numerical methods and statistical probability for analyzing human phenomena (counter to prevalent views about inscrutable divine will and free choice), (2) classification of diseases as discrete entities, and (3) changing patterns of life, death and disease arising from the Industrial Revolution, colonialism and the slave trade. The chapter then analyzes the era's three major debates about determinants of disease distribution: (1) miasma versus contagion; (2) conservative versus liberal versus radical explanations for the greater burden of illness on the poor; and (3) whether observed racial/ethnic differences in disease were due to innate differences, climate, or injustice. Researchers whose work is discussed include: Petty, Graunt, Halley, Sydenham, Rush, Tristan, Chadwick, Shattuck, Snow, Alison, Virchow, Engels, Villermé, Hirsch, Blumenbach, Morton, Agassiz, Cartwright, Jarvis, McCune Smith, and Rock.

Keywords:   colonialism, contagion, epidemiologic theory, history, Industrial Revolution, liberal, miasma, race, radical, slavery

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