Disclaimer.The materials on this page are intended for informational and educational purposes. No individuals should use the information, resources or tools contained herein to self-diagnosis or self-treat any health-related condition. The content of the website is not meant to be a substitute for advice provided by a doctor or other qualified health care professional. The company will not be held responsible for any negative consequences arising from the use of information posted on this site.
Microbes are disease causing organisms. Examples are bacteria, viruses, fungi. Not only microbes but particulate matter such as pollen, or dust inhaled into the body can constitute foreign invasion. Once these pathogens break through the body’s barriers and enter the body cells and tissues, they elicit a response from the body. The invaders are referred to as antigens or immunogens.
How can we do this? We can analyze the motives of anti-vaccinators using the concept of capital – social, cultural, and economic.
McNeill argued in Mosquito Empires that mindless viruses dictated the broad strokes of empire in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world, with humans playing only a minimal role. But in the Deep South humans were key players, with many thinking people using the invisible microbial world—yellow fever and immunity to it—to reinforce and justify a specific version of slave racial capitalism and intensify its already-socially Darwinist tendencies. Here, a small immune elite (immunocapitalists) were able to command the labour of thousands of desperate, unacclimated whites, and violently control the bodies of enslaved people, widely held to be resistant to the disease. As much as cotton, sugar, and slavery, mass yellow fever mortality, immunocapital, and the laissez-faire attitude politicians adopted towards public health powerfully fortified the factors that made antebellum New Orleans into a socially stratified place, dominated not by state institutions but the profit and slave-crazed few. As much as it was a “slave society,” the Deep South was also a “disease society” with all institutions, relationships, and thought systems shaped by the tiny yellow fever virus.
Creecy, James, Scenes in the South, and Other Miscellaneous Pieces (Philadelphia, 1860).
Dancer, Thomas, The Medical Assistant, Or Jamaica Practice of Physic (St. Jago de la Vega, 1809)
Harper, William, “Harper’s Memoir on Slavery,” in The Pro-Slavery Argument, as Maintained by the most Distinguished Writers of the Southern States (Philadelphia, 1853), pp. 1-98.
Harris, E. B., “Cases of the Epidemic Yellow Fever Prevalent at New Orleans in the Summer and Fall of 1833,” American
J. R. McNeill, Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-1914 (Cambridge, Eng., 2010), 2. For more on ecological-determinism, see Alfred Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 (Cambridge, Eng., 1986).