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A Matter of Life and Death

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Chapter Summary

Life and death take on new symbolic meanings through modern forms of warfare and colonization. This is the introductory chapter of the book, which uses a variety of data to understand the context of public health and tropical medicine in Puerto Rico at the turn of the century. Evidence in the form of unpublished reports, correspondence and local regulations were obtained from archival sources in the United States and in Puerto Rico. The book also refers to a variety of medical, biographical and medico-literary texts that were authored in the period from 1850 to 1950. Historians who study Puerto Rico share a popular belief that public health institutions developed at the beginning of the twentieth century began to solve the crisis of Puerto Rico's high mortality rate. The chapter presents an overview of how the other chapters of the book are organised.

Keywords: colonial life; mortality rate; Puerto Rico; tropical medicine

10.1163/9789004243712_002
/content/books/b9789004243712s002
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