2016 Student Research Conference:
29th Annual Student Research Conference

Diseases and Pests of the New World: A Metaphor for the Gendering of Early America
Alyssa K. Johnson
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

When European explorers travelled to the New World during the 15th through the 19th centuries, the diseases they brought wiped out significant amounts of Native American populations. However, as newcomers in a foreign land, European explorers themselves also experienced unfamiliar pests and illness. As documented by their field journals and works of literature written after their travels, explorers were plagued by many diseases, namely, tungiasis, onchocerciasis, and Chagas disease. In historical documents, Early America was typically depicted as a feminine entity in contrast to the masculine force of those who came to the New World with intentions of exploration and colonization. Although the New World possessed feminine qualities, the harsh reality of the parasites and pathogens explorers often encountered threatened their masculine authority. Examining the ways in which pests and disease contributed to European explorers' depictions of Early America sheds light on the power structure underpinning their conquest.

Keywords: Early America, Disease, Parasite, Pathogen

Women's and Gender Studies

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: -5
Location: MG 2001
Time: 9:00

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