Mariola Espinosa, Epidemic Invasions: Yellow Fever and the Limits

Mariola Espinosa, Epidemic Invasions: Yellow Fever and the Limits of Cuban Independence, 1878-
1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009).
Questions to Guide your Reading
Chapter 1
What is the major argument of the book? That is, what is the main point the author is trying
to convey and substantiate with this work?
What kinds of inequalities become clear for those who study the history of epidemics?
What tends to be the difference in the study of inequalities between noncolonial and
colonized regions?
What were the four motivations that drove colonial empires to invest in public health
efforts in colonized regions?
To what does the title of the book refer?
Chapter 2
What were some of the local responses to yellow fever outbreaks in the U.S. South?
What did experts erroneously believe to be the cause of yellow fever? How did that
understanding of the disease affect official attempts to prevent its spread?
What was the impact of yellow fever on the wars between Cuba and Spain?
How specifically did yellow fever figure into the arguments of proponents of the annexation
of Cuba to the US? Explain how these proponents saw yellow fever in an international
political context.
Chapter 3
After Cuba gained its independence from Spain, how was yellow fever an entry point for the
U.S. to exercise control?
Describe the sanitation and quarantine procedures enacted during the U.S. occupation.
What were some of the diverse responses that Cubans had to the inspection and sanitation
How does the author explain the U.S. preoccupation with Cuban yellow fever? How does she
refute competing explanations?
Chapter 4
What was Carlos Finlays contribution to understanding the true cause of yellow fever?
What was Jesse Lazears contribution?
Who were the volunteers for yellow fever experiments?
How did this new understanding of the disease change prevention methods?
What is the authors point about the differing governmental responses to yellow fever as
compared to tuberculosis?
Chapter 5
What conditions did the U.S. place on Cuban independence at the conclusion of the
How did sanitation factor in the debates over independent Cubas first constitution? What
was the Cuban delegates position on sanitation in the constitution?
What were the many outcomes of the yellow fever cases in Santiago de Cuba in 1904?
Chapter 6
From pages 98-99, explain the concept of hegemony. How does hegemony apply to a
colonial relationship between states?
Why did the U.S. press describe Cubans as uninterested or uncommitted to public health?
How did Cuban sanitation officials respond to these characterizations?
Why does the author say that the dependence relationship on the issue of yellow fever was
actually the reverse of what Americans assumed?
What was the significance of correcting the version of history that ignored or belittled
Carlos Finlays role in defining the cause of yellow fever?
What does the author mean by arguing that the U.S. achieved dominance over Cuba but not
Chapter 7
What patterns or precedents from the era of yellow fever eradication in Cuba repeated in
other Latin American nations in the second decade of the 20th century?
Response Paper
Craft an analytical paper based on the reading. Focus on what you found to be the strongest
elements that help you answer the questions below.
How did the timing of serious yellow fever outbreaks at the end of the 19th century
overlap with a changing political relationship between the US and Cuba?
Papers should be 1 to 2 pages in length, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins, and typed in 11pt.
or 12pt. font. Papers may not exceed 2 pages. The strongest essays will begin with a specific
argument related to the topic and develop themes and specific, concrete examples that support and
illustrate that thesis. Papers with quoted material and lacking footnotes will receive a ZERO.
Footnotes should be formatted according to Chicago Style. If you are unfamiliar with Chicago-style
citation, we have full access to the digital Chicago Manual of Style through the librarys website.
Search for Chicago Manual of Style online in the library catalog.

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