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Modernity, Cultural Reasoning, and the Institutionalization of Social Inequality: Racializing Death in a Venezuelan Cholera Epidemic

  • Charles L. Briggs (a1)
    • Published online: 09 January 2002

In Love in Times of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1985) creates a powerful image of Latin American modernity in the character of Dr. Juvenal Urbino. Urbino is called back from France, where he has studied medicine and embraced European modernity, in order to save the coastal Colombian city in which he was born from that quintessence of the premodern world of ignorance, filth, and backwardness—cholera. García Márquez captures exquisitely the terror that is conjured up by the disease—thousands of bodies wracked by rivers of diarrhea and vomit, cramps, sunken eyes, blue lips, and twisted limbs, many of them dying rapidly. But Urbino is armed with that quintessence of modernity—hygiene. The terror inspired by the epidemic enables Urbino to transform both the urban landscape and bodily practices in keeping with the dictates of Continental biopower, neatly mediated by his own patrician class standing.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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