Event | Lecture

Epidemics, Maya Communities, and Public Health in the Covid-19 Era: Views from Colonial Guatemala | Martha Few, Penn State

In English

Part of the Lecture Series: Spanish Flus: Pandemic Disease in the Iberian World from the Middle Ages through the Present

More information on this lecture series here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 5:00pm-6:15pm - EDT
This event is ONLINE and in ENGLISH
Register for Zoom Lecture at: https://tinyurl.com/spanishflulectures

This talk explores the tensions between humanitarianism and coercive colonialism during smallpox outbreaks in eighteenth-century Guatemala, when the state extended inoculation programs to its predominant, culturally diverse Maya communities. Evidence from colonial anti-epidemic campaigns shows public debates broadly comparable to the current COVID-19 crisis: debates about the measurably higher mortality rates for Indigenous people and other marginalized groups; debates about the extent of the state’s responsibility for the health of its peoples; and debates on whether or not coercion and violence should be used to ensure compliance with quarantines and public health campaigns.

Martha Few is Liberal Arts Professsor of Latin American history and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University. She is author of For All of Humanity: Mesoamerican and Colonial Medicine in Enlightenment Guatemala (2015), Baptism Through Incision: The Postmortem Cesarean in the Spanish Empire (2020), co-authored with Zeb Tortorici and Adam Warren, and other books and articles.


Cosponsored by the NYU Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and the NYU King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center.