Disease and Social Diversity: The European Impact on the Health of Non-Europeans

Paperback | February 15, 1996

byStephen J. Kunitz

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This book discusses the various social, political, and cultural forces that shape the distribution of diseases in populations. It is based on a series of comparative studies of the historical and contemporary disease patterns of the indigenous peoples of America north of Mexico, Polynesia, andAustralia. The purpose of the comparisons is to control in a quasi-experimental way certain crucial variables in order to examine the impact on health of other variables. The comparisons are made at increasingly more refined levels of analysis. Thus, once disease ecology has been held roughlyconstant, one can see more clearly the ways in which colonial policy and political institutions have shaped the affairs of indigenous peoples. And once policy has been held constant, one can see more clearly how culture can make a difference. And once culture has been held constant, one can see howgender and status make a difference. Kunitz argues that very few broad generalizations adequately explain the distribution of diseases in populations and that to truly comprehend such patterns one must understand the local social context as well the biological characteristics of diseases. The book is thus an argument for theimportance of local knowledge as a complement to the universalizing sort of knowledge that we associate with science.

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This book discusses the various social, political, and cultural forces that shape the distribution of diseases in populations. It is based on a series of comparative studies of the historical and contemporary disease patterns of the indigenous peoples of America north of Mexico, Polynesia, andAustralia. The purpose of the comparisons i...

Stephen J. Kunitz is at University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

other books by Stephen J. Kunitz

Regional Cultures and Mortality in America
Regional Cultures and Mortality in America

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see all books by Stephen J. Kunitz
Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9.17 × 6.06 × 0.59 inPublished:February 15, 1996Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195108698

ISBN - 13:9780195108699

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Table of Contents

1. Natural History and Local History2. Death in the Fourth World3. Historical and Contemporary Mortality Patterns in Polynesia4. Settler Capitalism and the State in Australia5. The Impact of Socio-Cultural Differences on Health6. The Health Consequences of Modernization7. Conclusions

Editorial Reviews

"This is a remarkable and wide-ranging book with important messages for policy makers as well as executors, not to mention historians and epidemiologists. It should also prove an important book for the peoples it studies who might wish to have an informed account of what has happened to themdemographically and why."--Journal of the History of Medicine