Start Submission

Reading: Repressed memory: Rethinking the impact of Latin America’s forgotten pandemics

Download

A- A+
Alt. Display

Explorations | Exploraciones

Repressed memory: Rethinking the impact of Latin America’s forgotten pandemics

Author:

Bert Hoffmann

German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), DE
About Bert

Bert Hoffmann is lead researcher at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), head of the GIGA Berlin Office and professor of political science at Freie Universität Berlin. Recent publications include: Assessing the Political and Social Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis in Latin America; in: GIGA Focus Latin America, 3, 2020 (with M. Blofield & M. Llanos); When Racial Inequalities Return: Assessing the Restratification of Cuban Society 60 Years After Revolution, in: Latin American Politics and Society, 62, 2, 29-52; 2020 (with K. Hansing); Emigrant Policies in Latin America and the Caribbean, Santiago de Chile: FLASCO, 2018 (with L. Pedroza & P. Palop).

X close

Abstract

The ‘Columbian exchange’ (Crosby) after 1492 mixed bacteria and viruses from the ‘Old’ and the ‘New World’; ever since then, epidemics have shaped the political course of events in Latin America and the Caribbean. While the diseases and their victims are largely forgotten in collective memory, they also remain marginal in much of conventional scholarship, as they are not easily framed in narratives of national history or social emancipation. The present contribution provides concrete examples that demonstrate the profound political impact of pandemics, but also the lack of attention they have received in standard textbooks and accounts of Latin American history. The conclusions call on scholars to fully embrace the insights from environmental history and epidemiological research into their teaching and writing on the region. 

Resumen: Memoria reprimida: Reflexión sobre el impacto de las pandemias olvidadas de Latinoamérica

El ‘intercambio colombino’ (Crosby) después de 1492 mezcló bacterias y virus del Viejo y el Nuevo Mundo. Desde entonces, las epidemias han moldeado el curso político de los acontecimientos en Latinoamérica y el Caribe. Si bien las enfermedades y sus víctimas caen en el olvido en gran medida en la memoria colectiva, también permanecen marginales en gran parte de la literatura académica convencional, ya que no se enmarcan fácilmente en narrativas de historia nacional o de emancipación social. La presente contribución proporciona ejemplos concretos que demuestran el profundo impacto político de las pandemias, pero también la falta de atención que han recibido en los libros de texto estándar y en los relatos dominantes de la historia de Latinoamérica. Las conclusiones exigen que los académicos adopten plenamente las ideas de la historia ambiental y la investigación epidemiológica en su enseñanza y escritura sobre la región. 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.32992/erlacs.10677
How to Cite: Hoffmann, B. (2020). Repressed memory: Rethinking the impact of Latin America’s forgotten pandemics. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, (109), 203–211. DOI: http://doi.org/10.32992/erlacs.10677
95
Views
86
Downloads
Published on 29 Jun 2020.
Peer Reviewed

Downloads

  • PDF (EN)