The Limits of Domination

in Epidemic Invasions

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226218113
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226218137 | DOI:
The Limits of Domination

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By the end of its second military occupation of Cuba in January 1909, the United States had succeeded in eliminating a longstanding threat to the health and economy of its southern states: yellow fever in Havana. The U.S. government had demonstrated to the Cuban government, public health officials, and doctors that failing to keep the island absolutely free of yellow fever would result in economically devastating quarantine measures—whether justified by circumstances or not—and, in all likelihood, reoccupation by U.S. military forces. Faced with unremitting pressure from an overwhelming foreign power, the Cubans remained on guard against the disease. However, they did not accept that this state of affairs was natural and appropriate. In particular, they rejected the view that the knowledge of how to defeat yellow fever was a gift to Cuba from the United States; they demanded that the United States and the world acknowledge the contributions of their countrymen, especially Carlos J. Finlay, to the scientific conquest of yellow fever. The United States had achieved domination over the island, but not hegemony.

Keywords: yellow fever; Cuba; United States; sanitation; public health; Carlos J. Finlay; domination; hegemony

Chapter.  7970 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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