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Pestilence and Headcolds
Author: Sherry Fields

ISBN: 9780231142403
Format: Hardcover
Number Of Pages: 212
Published: 16 June 2010
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.6

If one of the goals of historical research is to get as close as possible to the texture of daily life in worlds we have lost, then some understanding of the beliefs people had about their health is essential, especially if they lived in an age when the death rates from infectious disease were high and life expectancy was low.

Beginning with a simple question-how did people explain why they fell sick? "Pestilence and Headcolds: Encountering Illness in Colonial Mexico" maps out both Spanish and indigenous notions about human health as they circulated throughout colonial Mexico. As one of only two areas of high civilization in the Americas before 1492, Mesoamerica was home to a variety of peoples with a long tradition of empiric and shamanistic medicine. Beginning in the sixteenth century, however, conquering Spaniards began to impose Spanish forms of settlement and local government and European notions of race, class, and religion. They also enforced a European etiology based on the ancient texts of Hippocrates and Galen.

Because of its cultural diversity, colonial Mexico is an especially rich setting for the exploration of premodern con...

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