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Driven by FearEpidemics and Isolation in San Francisco's House of Pestilence$
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Guenter B. Risse

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039843

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039843.001.0001

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Domains of Contagion and Confinement

Domains of Contagion and Confinement

(p.21) Chapter 1 Domains of Contagion and Confinement
Driven by Fear

Guenter B. Risse

University of Illinois Press

This chapter maps out the sites of contagion and confinement in nineteenth-century California. Each epidemic outbreak offers a unique blend of environmental circumstances, biological agencies, and cultural contexts that shape not only public opinion but also medical beliefs and measures. To counteract the nefarious effects of contagion, past societies developed several responses, all of which were geared toward detaining people already displaying signs of sickness and temporarily holding those suspected of potential exposure to the identified scourge. Thus the chapter considers how the public coped with contagion and the “miasma” of disease primarily by isolating the disease via scapegoating, quarantining—among others.

Keywords:   contagion, pollution, segregation, isolation, quarantines, stereotyping, scapegoating, environmental circumstances, biological agencies, cultural contexts

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