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História, Ciências, Saúde-Manguinhos

Print version ISSN 0104-5970

Hist. cienc. saude-Manguinhos vol.20 no.3 Rio de Janeiro Sept. 2013


Press Release

Immigrant crossings reveal changes in maritime prophylaxis at the port of Rio de Janeiro in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

Based on accounts of immigrant ships in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that arrived at the port of Rio de Janeiro with epidemics raging onboard, the researcher Fernanda Rebelo, professor at the Universidade Federal da Bahia, shows how practices in the inspection of passengers and ships gave rise to new knowledge and technology in sanitary prevention work, which was then under the responsibility of the Sanitary Service, part of the Inspector-General of Health for Brazilian Ports.

New practices in sanitary defense afforded both authorities and the public greater security in the fight against epidemics at a time when there was heavy port traffic in goods and passengers. However, "despite the beliefs of contagionists or those who focused on environmental conditions, or even the emergence of microbiology, the specter of contagion prevailed with respect to the immigration question and remained over time, as well as the need for isolation, disinfection, inspection, tests, and many other processes based on the distrust generated by the immigration process."

Historiography has studied the great late nineteenth century-early twentieth century wave of European immigration to the Americas from the perspectives of ethnicity, cultural identity, labor, nationalism, and populations. Rebelo's doctoral dissertation, "A travessia: imigração, saúde e profilaxia internacional (1890-1926)" (The crossing: immigration, health, and international prophylaxis), defended at the Graduate Program in the History of the Health Sciences, Casa de Oswaldo Cruz (COC/Fiocruz), was the basis for this article. She has analyzed the immigration process from the angle of the history of the health sciences, with a focus on the interrelations between immigration, science, health, and society.

Rebelo relied on a gamut of sources, including ministerial reports, official letters, correspondence, diplomatic documentation, and texts published in newspapers, magazines, and scientific journals of the era, which she consulted at places like Brazil's National Archives, National Library, and Immigrant Memorial.

"Between the Carlo R. and the Orleannais: public health and maritime prophylaxis in the description of two cases of ships transporting immigrants arriving in the port of Rio de Janeiro, 1893-1907" can be found in História, Ciências, Saúde - Manguinhos, v. 20, no. 3, Jul.-Sep. 2013

Contact: Fernanda Rebelo Universidade Federal da Bahia 071 32836786

Creative Commons License This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.