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Sudden Death and Plantation Life in Colonial Cuba

Lecture by Adrian Lopez Denis from Brown University. Lecture hosted by The Mellon Seminar on Caribbean Cultural History.

Friday, May 29, 2009
3:00 PM
Bunche 6275
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Between 1833 and 1836, a series of cholera outbreaks killed at least 20 percent of the slaves working in the sugar and coffee plantations of western Cuban. The presentation discusses an unpublished eyewitness account of the impact of the disease on one of those estates. Its
author, sugar mill owner José Yarini, was an Italian-born physician trained in Havana. Writing as the ultimate insider/outsider, he managed to craft a shocking literary testimony of the epidemic while dealing with some of the most complex ethical questions raised by his dual condition as owner and healer of slaves.

Adrián López Denis (Ph.D. History, UCLA) is a Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities at the Cogut Center for the Humanities, Brown University. His primary field of specialization is the cultural and social history of the Spanish Caribbean. He is currently working to expand his dissertation, titled “Disease and Society in Colonial Cuba, 1790-1840” into a comprehensive history of slave medicine in the island, from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. He plans to produce a comparative history of the interplays between slave healing and imperial science in the Greater Caribbean during the Age of Revolution. This long-term study will examine the environmental, socioeconomic, political, and cultural determinants of health among people of African descent living in New Orleans, San Juan, Havana, Kingston, and Cartagena, between
1770 and 1840. His analysis is based on a close reading of primary sources chronicling the history of medicine, health, and disease in each location, with an emphasis on collective responses to outbreaks of smallpox, cholera, and yellow fever. Adrián López Denis is Cuban born scholar, earning a BA in biology, another one in Library Sciences focusing in the study of colonial scientific journals, and completed a master in Economics, with a concentration on international development, and a master in Latin American Studies, with a focus on the comparative study of popular religions.



A reception will follow.

Cost : Free and Open to the Public


Sponsor(s): Latin American Institute, The Mellon Seminar on Caribbean Cultural History.

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