Hugh Cagle, Assembling the Tropics: Science and Medicine in Portugal’s Empire, 1450–1700
Source: Society for the Social History of Medicine
Hugh Cagle, Assembling the Tropics: Science and Medicine in Portugal’s Empire, 1450–1700 , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. Pp. xix + 364. £35.99. ISBN 978 1 107 19663 6.
Social History of Medicine, Volume 32, Issue 3, August 2019, Pages 637–638, https://doi.org/10.1093/shm/hkz050
Published: 01 June 2019
As pioneers of European maritime exploration from the early fifteenth century onwards, the Portuguese confronted unexpected geographies of environmental and epidemiological difference. Guided by classical antiquity, they had expected to find the ‘torrid zone’ of West Africa so hot, barren and arid as to be almost uninhabitable and devoid of vegetation. Instead, once south of the Sahara and having reached the Senegal River, they encountered populous, verdant lands that seemed, contrary to expectation, almost Edenic in nature. At the same time, however, they were forced to recognise that far from being healthy (for them), Africa between the tropics was rife with pestilence. This conundrum forms the starting point for...