Part of the civilizing mission of European powers in their colonies in Asia and Africa was an interest in encouraging hygiene and health among the population, according to recently established medical practices in Europe. Diseases such as cholera and plague were often targeted, but in sub-Saharan Africa, British colonial officials were especially concerned with sexually transmitted diseases (or, rather, what were assumed to be sexually transmitted diseases), which allowed colonial officials to tackle both the disease as well as what was assumed to be the licentious behavior that led to its spread.
Guest Ben Weiss has been studying the history of public health in Africa from the colonial era through to the current HIV/AIDS epidemic, and discusses these earliest encounters between indigenous Africans and European medical practitioners.
During World War II, the governments of Brazil and the United States made an unprecedented level of joint investment in the economy and infrastructure of the Amazon region. The dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas (1937-45) trumpeted the colonization and development of the Amazon (christened the “March to the West”) as a nationalist imperative to defend a sparsely settled frontier covering some sixty percent of Brazilian territory.
Guest Seth Garfield shows how a little-known chapter of World War II history illuminates the ways outsiders’ very understandings and representations of the nature of the Amazon have evolved over the course of the latter half of the twentieth century.