Printer Friendly

Inventing the tropical South: race, region, and the colonial model.

IN 1915, ELLSWORTH HUNTINGTON, a geographer at Yale University, published a book entitled Civilization and Climate that illustrated how tropical and sub-tropical climates inhibited the development of modern civilization around the globe. Huntington discussed the connection between environment and progress in a number of locales such as the West Indies, Mexico, South America, Latin America, India, Egypt, and South Africa. The cultural geographer noted that the southern parts of the United States suffered from "climatic handicaps" too. What all of the inhabitants in these areas had in common, Huntington asserted, was a certain "tropical inertia," a state of mind and physical constitution that sapped men's virility, engendered backwardness and disease, and contributed to the degeneration of the white race. (1) The U.S. South, it turns out, was as equally primordial and treacherous as any distant foreign nation.

Huntington's inclination to link the U.S. South with tropical and sub-tropical countries around the world was not unusual. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries American social reformers, businessmen, intellectuals, social scientists, and government experts, as well as native and foreign travelers to the region, formulated an "imaginary geography," a set of discourses about the tropical South that focused on the landscape, the people, the climate, and the plants. (2) The discursive construction of Southern "tropicality" generated a familiar set of cultural images that resonated with Western imperialist imagery and legitimated and reflected practical efforts to reform and reconstruct the domestic tropics in America's own backyard. (3) In other words, a transnational circulation of colonial discourses and models of rule and reform encouraged American cultural imperialists to construct the U.S. South as a tropical space in need of colonial uplift, much like the tropical possessions acquired as a result of American imperialism. (4) The links made between domestic and foreign tropical locales demonstrate how fluid America's conceptual and geographical boundaries were at the turn of the century.

Rather than looking at the relationship between the South and the nation on a regional and national scale we ought to broaden the units of analysis. Our understanding of the relationship between nation and region shifts as we step back from the simple North-South binary framework that has long dominated the field of Southern studies. The cultural construction of a universal and dangerous tropicality reflected a global movement of peoples, patterns of governance, colonial models, and social scientific theories that transgressed the physical and cognitive borders of multiple nation-states. Americans located the U.S. South and many foreign countries as deviant geographical spaces in the broader transatlantic world. Ironically, this complicated the project of reconciliation between the New South and the modern industrializing North at the turn of the century. The development of what might be called a Southern neo-orientalism rendered the process of sectional reunification--the formation of a homogeneous nation-state--unstable. (5) As the tropical problems of the New South increasingly began to look like the tropical problems of the colonial possessions, the contours of the nationalist project became more difficult to define. The emphasis on the sharp moral and topographical distinctions between tropical and temperate climates contributed to lingering ideas about Southern distinctiveness even while the region was viewed as being similar to other foreign countries.

Depictions of the tropics typically drew upon a complex of themes such as climate, race, landscape, and disease. The discourse on tropical spaces often was unstable and marked by representational duality. Historian David Arnold notes, "The symbolism of the tropics was deeply ambivalent, for a landscape of seeming natural abundance and great fertility was also paradoxically a landscape of poverty and disease..." ("Illusory Riches," p. 7). (6) This paradox raised questions about how easily the tropical region could be subordinated and made productive for imperial powers. In short, the question being asked was could "civilization" overcome the perils of the tropics? (7) The tendency to paint the tropics as both pathological and paradisiacal "also generated what one geographer has called a "moral climatology." (8) In mapping the tropical world, colonizers repeatedly offered moral judgments on tropical lands and peoples. The use of moralistic idioms contributed to the construction of the tropics as the "Other," a geographical entity often deemed inferior to the West. (9)

In this paper I would like to focus on one particular way in which the U.S. South was figured as the tropical "Other," as a diseased and degenerative space. Certainly Southern tropicality was imbued with a host of contradictory meanings, cast in both a negative and a positive light. Some Americans viewed the region as a tropical Eden, a therapeutic escape from the alienation engendered by the rise of corporate capitalism in the North. (10) In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a spate of promotional books and pamphlets focusing on the salubrious climate, the edenic landscape, and the availability of exotic fruits and vegetables welcomed tourists and real estate developers to the region. Florida, in particular, was often portrayed as a bountiful tropical paradise. (11) Yet underneath the allure of Southern tropicality there lurked a dark side, a dangerous and pestilential character that needed to be tamed.

First, the invention of the U.S. South as a tropical space focused on the climate, vegetation, and topography. The region was simultaneously viewed as alluring and perilous, exotic yet familiarly American. As early as the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, colonists considering transplantation to Virginia and the West Indies harbored anxieties about the dangers hot climates posed to English constitutions. In the early nineteenth century, discussions of European settlement in the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia also manifested a concern with health and climate. (12) Northern travelers to the deep South often commented on the dangerous, dank, and primitive characteristics of the landscape. In his travel diary entitled From Cape Cod to Dixie and the Tropics, John Milton Mackie described the "primeval aspect of things" and marveled at the fecundity of the vegetation. In Louisiana he noticed that "it [wa]s the beauty of the garden and the desolation of the waste combined" that drew his attention to the local scenery. Yet even though Mackie enjoyed the paradoxical combination of spectacular beauty and decay in the South, he was glad to leave behind what he called the "pet nursery of fever and pestilence" and return to a more salubrious environment. (13) In addition, the types of crops grown in the South, such as cotton, were considered to be indigenous to tropical and semi-tropical locations. (14) Cultural geographers surveying the Southern landscape often exoticized the region by noting that cotton had arrived in the South via the Orient. (15) Various travelers to the South likened the topography to foreign tropical locations and saw no inconsistency in touring the South and other tropical countries on one continuous trip. Mackie's journey linked "Dixie" with the "Tropics," including Cuba and the Bahamas. William Archer, an Englishman who combined two exotic locations--the South and the Caribbean islands--on a single whirlwind tour argued, "I see no reason why the fascinating ferment of the Southern States, in conjunction with the glorious beauty of the West Indies, should not attract the traveling Briton." (16)

Second, the discourse of the tropics also invoked notions of disease. In the earliest attempts to colonize the tropics Europeans noted the existence of certain "alien" diseases that appeared to be indigenous to the warm, damp climates. In the early nineteenth century, the sanitary survey was an integral part of British colonial medicine. The doctors of the British East India Company used what one scholar has called "medico-topographical" surveys in India that helped map their colony as a distinct locality and, more often than not, as an exotic space. (17) Michel Foucault has described the development of this kind of perception in the nineteenth century as a "historical and geographical consciousness of disease." (18) The need to know, to look, to catalog, and to map the place (and ultimately the body) would make it possible for Western colonizers to survive the dangers of the tropics in the post-colonial world By the late nineteenth century, the continued need for healthy bodies in military combat and imperialist expeditions into the tropics had generated an interest in a separate scientific field designed to facilitate these goals. The theoretical connections made between disease and place were energized by the emergence of tropical medicine as a scientific specialty. (19)

As the scientific and medical communities began to focus on the connections between insects, climate, and disease in their surveys of foreign tropical locales, many Americans began to associate the South with tropical pathology. The United States' acquisition of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, the Hawaiian Islands, and Guam, as well as the American presence in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, raised questions about the nature of infectious diseases thought to have entered North America in the bodies of American soldiers, missionaries, businessmen, sailors, or diplomats who had been traveling abroad. A number of organizations like the Rockefeller Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the United States Public Health Service all relied on the tools of the new science of tropical medicine to catalog tropical pathology in the South. They sent scores of experts and observers into the region to diagnose both the people and the place. The ensuing cultural cartography framed the South as an infectious primitive space. One doctor noted that Southern ports in particular were potential hotbeds for diseases indigenous to the damp, hot climate of tropical regions. (20) The opening editorial of the first issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine in 1913 warned that formerly "exotic" diseases like yellow fever, hookworm, pellagra, and malaria had planted themselves in some sections of the United States. (21) The existence of tropical diseases in the South meant that one did not need to travel abroad to discover an "exotic" disease or to experience the enervating effects of a tropical climate. Americans had a subtropical country thriving in their own backyard. The identification of the tropical U.S. South was part of a larger view of the diseased tropics in the world derived from the gaze of the industrialized Northern Hemisphere.

The spectacle of tropical geographies was accessible to the public most readily in the art of world expositions and exhibits. The exposition proved to be the best cultural model for imperial propagandists to showcase both the potential merits and exotic features of the new colonial possessions. (22) The display of tropical otherness included both the South and foreign locales. In 1915, the Rockefeller Foundation presented an exhibit on hookworm disease at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California, to raise public awareness about infection in the Southern states through the use of models, life-size photographs of diseased bodies, and live demonstrations of microscopic examinations of fecal matter. The exhibit included a colored map of the world showing places where hookworm could be found and the various tropical regions targeted by the International Health Commission for public health reform. Juxtaposed next to the illustrated charts on the results of the campaign in the South, the world map reinforced the connection between the moral and corporeal deficiencies of the tropical South and distant tropical countries. (23) Walter Hines Page, a reformer on the board of the Rockefeller Foundation, published an article in his popular magazine World's Work entitled "The Hookworm in Civilization," which made comparisons between the "disease belts" of the world, including the South, and the way public health work seemed likely to open the way "for the reclamation of other tropical peoples" outside of the United States. (24)

Topographical and cultural comparisons between the American South and places like the Philippines and Cuba were not surprising given that many of the doctors and public health officials who wound up working in the South in the early twentieth century had previously been stationed in "tropical countries." (25) Likewise, the International Health Board maintained that public health work to eradicate tropical diseases in the South was valuable because it served as a training school for men "given responsible posts in foreign countries." (26) In general, physicians, reformers, and social scientists writing and talking about disease in the South did not always make the distinction between imported diseases and diseases understood to be native to the region. The tendency to blur the line between the two modes of origin and geographical manifestation in scientific and popular discourse contributed to an image of the tropical South as a place which had long harbored unusual and potentially life-threatening illnesses. The idea that diseases have histories and are not timeless entities often became lost in discussions of tropical areas.

Finally, scientific inquiry into tropical pathology could not be divorced from race either since one of the objectives of tropical medicine was to explain the various interactions between racial constitutions and regional environments. Theories about racial immunity and the role of racial differences in the expression of disease were not surprising given the racial designs of American and European imperialism. Tropical medicine played a pivotal role in negotiating the relationship between the colonized and the colonizers since it constituted a powerful discourse of authority and modernity. (27) Science also provided answers to the medical conundrum posed by the threat of specific tropical diseases and climates in these new colonial possessions: why did the white man demonstrate a relative lack of immunity to foreign contagions given the asserted superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race? (28) Moreover, colonial doctors working in the tropics initially pointed to the non-white races' apparent immunity to certain illnesses while simultaneously implicating them in spreading those very diseases. (29) The national consensus on the supremacy of the white race in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries led to both racial imperialism abroad and a tacit sanction of racial segregation at home in the South, yet the questions raised by the expanding field of tropical medicine suggested that in both places racialized manifestations of disease might prove highly dangerous to Anglo-Saxon civilization. (30) In the U.S. South, the significant presence of African Americans--almost ninety percent of the total black population in the United States through the first decade of the twentieth century--reinforced the idea of a pathological disease-carrying region of non-white people. (31) The confluence of race, place, and disease animated the discursive interpretations of tropical geographies.

The medical paradox regarding the white race's tendency to succumb to tropical diseases and climates in spite of its supposed racial superiority was especially apparent in the U.S. South because a large proportion of the poor-white population suffered from hookworm and pellagra. An increasingly conspicuous population of poor whites exhibiting tropical characteristics drew attention to the inherent tension and contradiction between race and place. The problem of locating poor whites in the framework of racial hierarchy was complicated by modern notions of disease. Ellsworth Huntington argued that certain tropical diseases native to the Southern climate had exacerbated the penchant for laziness which had caused white Southerners to "fall below the level of their race" and become "'Poor Whites' or 'Crackers.'" Disease also created a weak labor force and led to an increase in run-down farms. This was evidence, he concluded, that the average Southern white individual was degenerating and sinking dangerously low to the level of the average Southern black individual. (32) Wickliffe Rose, the secretary of the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm, noted the degeneracy of the white race during a trip to Richmond County, Virginia, in 1911. He reported that the poor whites in this community called "Forkemites" were known for their extreme poverty, lack of thrift, "dense illiteracy," and "low moral tone" and subsequently had begun to take on the appearance of a "distinct race." (33) In the tropical South, a white race moving backward toward a state of barbarism rather than forward toward a state of civilization collapsed the boundaries/binaries between black and white, civilized and savage. The pathology of the tropics played a critical role in this process of racial de-evolution. More importantly, evidence of Anglo-Saxon regression in the region challenged the national consensus on white racial superiority that underlay much of modern American identity at the turn of the century. (34) Just when the American imperialist project abroad was helping to contribute to the construction and celebration of a white national identity through its dominance of the non-white races in the tropical world, the distinctive problems of the tropical South, magnified by the new interest in tropical medicine, including the pathology of the poor white, threatened to weaken this ideology from within.

In conclusion, the invention of Southern tropicality in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries included the use of medical geographies (since diseases like malaria and hookworm were endemic to the South and other tropical places), regional surveys that stressed the problem of race and climate, and travelers' accounts documenting the "Other" in a neo-orientalist discourse. In analyzing the process by which the tropical South was culturally constructed we can begin to move away from thinking about the U.S. South as an anomaly in an exceptionalist nation. Imperial anxieties about climate, racial degeneration, and disease in the "tropics" Americans to locate the tropical pathology of the South in the transnational world. The spatial projection of American power at the height of Western imperialism drew attention to the significance of place and infused regionalist discourse with new life. The geographical discourse of Southern tropicality challenges several binaries that have long dominated the field of Southern studies: North v. South and black v. white. It is this attention to the North-South binary that has led scholars to argue for a collaborative and relatively smooth process of sectional reunification in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I would suggest that reconciliation was neither permanent nor very stable given the tendency of Americans to make powerful connections between the U.S. South and the overseas colonial possessions. It makes more sense to locate Southern studies in a complex web of intersecting regional, national, and global issues, practices and designs, especially since observers of the region historically did so themselves. In reconceptualizing Southern studies as a transnational discipline we can demonstrate how the older model of the North-South counterpoint has outlived its usefulness because of its cultural, geographical, and conceptual limitations.

(1) Ellsworth Huntington, Civilization and Climate (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1915), pp. 17, 42.

(2) For the use of the term "imaginary geography" see James S. Duncan, "The Struggle to be Temperate: Climate and 'Moral Masculinity' in Mid-Nineteenth Century Ceylon," Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 21 (March 2000), 34-47. Most scholars have focused on the construction of tropical spaces outside of the United States as a component of imperialist intervention and colonialism. Yet the practice of constructing the tropics could just as easily be applied to regions within the boundaries of the United States.

(3) For a general discussion of the cultural construction of "tropicality" see David Arnold, "Inventing Tropicality," in David Arnold, The Problem of Nature: Environment, Culture and European Expansion (Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1996), pp. 141-168, and David Arnold, "'Illusory Riches': Representations of the Tropical World, 1840-1950," Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 21 (January 2000), 6-18. Also see David N. Livingstone, "Tropical Hermeneutics: Fragments for a Historical Narrative, An Afterword," Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 21 (March 2000), 92-98.

(4) Ann Stoler and Frederick Cooper suggest that the history of colonialism should include research into "the extent to which models of rule passed back and forth across different kinds of imperial territory" ("Between Metropole and Colony: Rethinking a Research Agenda," in Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World, ed. Ann Laura Stoler and Frederick Cooper [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997], pp. 1-56). For a history of the global circulation of peoples, practices of governance, colonial models, and social scientific theories, see Daniel T. Rogers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Era (Cambridge: Harvard University-Press, 1998), and Paul A. Kramer, "Empires, Exceptions, and Anglo-Saxons: Race and Rule Between the British and United States Empires, 1880-1910," Journal of American History, 88 (March 2002), 1315-1353. Two recent geographers argue that "Unraveling the history of dominant ideas of the tropics reveals a process of circulation, in which plants, people and ideas migrate from one part of the world to another" (Felix Driver and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, "Constructing the Tropics: Introduction," Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 21 [March 2000], 3).

(5) For a history of the concept of Orientalism see Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978). For a collection of essays on neo-orientalism within the same country see Jane Schneider, ed., Italy's 'Southern Question': Orientalism in One Country (Oxford: Berg Publishers, 1998).

(6) For other examples addressing this duality see Arnold, "Inventing Tropicality"; Stephen Frenkel, "Jungle Stories: North American Representations of Tropical Panama," Geographical Review, 86 (July 1996), 317-333; Nancy L. Stephan, "Tropical Nature as a Way of Writing," in A. Lafuente, A. Elena, y M. L. Ortega, eds., (Madrid, 1993), pp. 495-510.

(7) For examples of writers who articulated a more optimistic view of the potential for progress and civilization in the tropics see Truxtun Beale, "The White Race and the Tropics," Forum, 27 (July 1889), 534-536, and Ernst C. Meyer, "Creating Social Values in the Tropics," American Journal of Sociology, 21 (March 1916), 665.

(8) See David N. Livingstone, "Race, Space and Moral Climatology: Notes Toward a Genealogy," Journal of Historical Geography, 28 (2002), 159-180.

(9) A binary understanding of the world in terms of who belonged and who did not was a central component of colonialism and the ideology of imperialism. The "Other" could take the form of person or place. See Homi K. Bhabha, "The Other Question: stereotype, Discrimination, and the Discourse of Colonialism," in Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (New York: Routledge, 1994), pp. 66-84, and Edward Said, Orientalism. For an example of how a tropical region was conceptualized as the "Other" see Stephen Frenkel, "Geographical Representations of the 'Other': The Landscape of the Panama Canal Zone," Journal of Historical Geography, 28 (2002), 85-99.

(10) See Nina Silber, The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865-1900 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993), pp. 66-92.

(11) See Hampton Dunn, "Florida: Jewel of the Gilded Age," Gulf Coast Historical Review, 10 (1994), 19-28; Rodger Tarr, "Eden Revisited: Florida and the American Literary Imagination," Mississippi Quarterly, 46 (Fall 1993), 661-666; Doug Stewart, "The Madness That Swept Miami," Smithsonian, 31 (2001), 58-64, 66-67.

(12) See Karen Ordahl Kupperman, "Fear of Hot Climes in the Anglo-American Colonial Experience," William and Mary Quarterly, 41 (April 1984), 213-240, and David N. Livingstone, "Human Acclimatization: Perspectives on a Contested Field of Inquiry in Science, Medicine and Geography," History of Science, 25 (1987), 360.

(13) J. Milton Mackie, From Cape Cod to Dixie and the Tropics (New York, 1864), pp. 153, 169. For an analysis of the significance of the image of the swamp in nineteenth-century America, see David C. Miller, Dark Eden: The Swamp in Nineteenth-Century American Culture (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

(14) See W. B. Mercier and H. E. Savely, The Knapp Method of Growing Cotton (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1913), pp. 13, 43, 97; T. S. Miller, Sr., The American Cotton System Historically Treated: Showing Operations of the Cotton Exchanges. Also Cotton Classification with Numerous Practical Domestic and Foreign Commercial Calculations (Austin, 1909), p. 2; Gilbeart H. Collings, The Production of Cotton (New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1926), pp. 2-4; Eugene Clyde Brooks, The Story of Cotton and the Development of the Cotton States (Chicago: Rand, McNally, 1911), p. 22; and "The Boll Weevil Pest," Philadelphia Bulletin, April 18, 1904, United States Department of Agriculture, Record Group 7, Southern Field Crop Insect Investigations, "Newspaper Clippings," Box 6, National Archives, Washington D. C.

(15) See Charles William Burkett and Clarence Hamilton Poe, Cotton, Its Cultivation, Marketing, Manufacture, and the Problems of the Cotton World (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1906), p. 13; James A. B. Scherer, Cotton as a World Power: A Study in the Economic Interpretation of History (New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1916), p. 4; and Edna Turpin, Cotton (New York, 1924), pp. 1-3. In 1890, Edward Atkinson, a manufacturer from New England published a long paper on the future of cotton manufacturing in the United States. Although he only briefly addressed the possibility of foreign competition in the cultivation of raw cotton, including China, Atkinson included six elaborate pictures of "prehistoric" Chinese men and women cultivating, ginning, baling, spinning, and weaving cotton. This curious juxtaposition of a discussion on "cotton culture" in the South with pictures exoticizing ancient Chinese laborers seems unusual at first. Yet the combination of these

two images mirrored a growing tendency in a variety of other contexts to label the South as tropical and exotic. See Edward Atkinson, "The Future Situs of the Cotton Manufacture of the United States," Popular Science Monthly, 36 (January 1890), 289-319. For a history of the cultural construction of the geographical entity known as "the Orient" and its role as a foil to the Western world, see Said, Orientalism.

(16) Through Afro-America: An English Reading of the Race Problem (London, 1910), pp. xv-xvi.

(17) See David Arnold, Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth-Century India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993).

(18) The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception (New York: Pantheon, 1973), p. 24.

(19) For a history of tropical medicine, see Warwick Anderson, "Colonial Pathologies: American Medicine in the Philippines, 1898-1921," Diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1992, and "Immunities of Empire: Race, Disease, and the New Tropical Medicine, 1900-1920," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 70 (Spring 1996), 94-118; David Arnold, ed., Warm Climates and Western Medicine: The Emergence of Tropical Medicine 1500-1900 (Amsterdam, 1996); Michael Worboys, "The Emergence of Tropical Medicine: A Study in the Establishment of a Scientific Specialty," in Perspectives on the Emergence of Scientific Disciplines, ed. Gerlad Lemain, Roy Macleod, Michael Mulkay, and Peter Weingart (The Hague, 1976), pp. 75-98; and Nancy Stephan, "The Interplay Between Socio-Economic Factors and Medical Science: Yellow Fever Research, Cuba and the United States," Social Studies of Science, 8 (1978), 397-423.

(20) John D. Swan, M. D., "Tropical Diseases and Health in the United States," Southern Medical Journal, 4 (July 1911), 499; David N. Livingstone, "Tropical Climate and Moral Hygiene: The Anatomy of a Victorian Debate," British Journal of the History of Science, 32 (1999), 93-110.

(21) Editorial, American Journal of Tropical Diseases and Preventive Medicine, 1 (July 1913), 1. For an early reference also see Editorial, "The Existence of Tropical Diseases in the South," Southern Medical Journal, 1 (October 1908), 269.

(22) On the relationship between exhibitions and empire, see Robert Rydell, All the World's A Fair: Visions of Empire at American. International Expositions 1876-1916 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984); Sharra Vostral, "Imperialism on Display: The Philippine Exposition at the 1904 World's Fair," Gateway Heritage, 13 (Spring 1993); Paul Kramer, "Making Concessions: Race and Empire Revisited at the Philippine Exposition, St. Louis, 1901-1905," Radical History Review, 73 (Winter 1999), 74-114; and Raymond Corbey, "Ethnographic Showcases, 1870-1930," in The Decolonization of Imagination: Culture, Knowledge and Power, ed. Jan Nedervenn Pieterse and Bhikhu Parekh (London: Zed Books, 1995), pp. 57-80.

(23) International Health Commission, Rockefeller Foundation, "Countries by Groups, in Which Hookworm Infection Has Been Demonstrated," Pamphlet Collection, Box 4, 58, Rockefeller Center Archives.

(24) World's Work, 24 (September 1912), 504.

(25) For example, Lewellys Barker, the president of the Southern Medical Association, received his training in tropical diseases in the Philippines as a young student from Johns Hopkins, and Charles W. Stiles, the "discoverer" of the hookworm in the South, taught army regulations at the Army Medical School, with a special emphasis on military hygiene, sanitation, and tropical diseases. See Anderson, pp. 26-27, 37.

(26) Intensive Community Work for the Relief and Control of Hookworm Disease in the Southern States," International Health Board, Record Group 5, Series, 2, Box 3, Folder 20, Rockefeller Center Archives.

(27) For examples of studies exploring the role of colonial medicine or how conquering, surveying, and regulating the body functioned as a component of Western colonialist ideology, see David Arnold, Colonizing the Body; Philip D. Curtin, Death by Migration: Europe's Encounter with the Tropical World in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Warwick Anderson, "Colonial Pathologies"; and Warwick Anderson, "'Where Every Prospect Pleases and Only Man is Vile': Laboratory Medicine as Colonial Discourse," Critical Inquiry, 18 (Spring 1992), 506-529.

(28) For an example of the celebration of science in conquering the tropics, see Beale, "The White Race and the Tropics."

(29) For more specific attention to the role race played in colonial medicine see Anderson, "Immunities of Empire."

(30) In general, the language of colonialism used in tropical settings dominated American discussions on the racial situation in the South, particularly in the emphasis on words and concepts such as "discipline," "restraint," "progress," "civilization," "barbarism," "imitation," "child-like," "self-government," "education," "evolution," "inferior races," "missionaries," and "citizenship." To observers at the turn of the century, Southerners' apparent ignorance of rudimentary health measures looked remarkably similar to the lack of basic public hygiene found in people living in the newly acquired colonial possessions. For comparisons see Warwick Anderson, "Excremental Colonialism: Public Health and the Poetics of Pollution," Critical Inquiry, 21 (Spring 1995), 640-669, and William Link, "Privies, Progressivism, and Public Schools: Health Reform and Education in the Rural South, 1909-1920," Journal of Southern History, 54 (November 1988), 623-642.

(31) Surgeon L. D. Fricks, writing on behalf of the Rockefeller's International Health Board, stated that malaria was an exotic in the true sense of the word since it had been brought to the United States from Africa. The implication, of course, was that slaves were responsible for importing the disease into the Smith. See Surgeon L. D. Fricks, "Malaria Control in the United States--Retrospect and Prospect, N.M.C. Meeting, November 12-13, 1923," IHB, RG 5, Series 2, Subseries 200, Box 1, Folder 4, Rockefeller Center Archives. The medical community often attributed hookworm to those Africans arriving on the slave ships as well and insisted on blaming African Americans' lack of sanitary health and habits for the continued spread of the disease, despite the fact that it was predominantly a pool white illness. See "To Fight Hookworm: Dr. Crook Sounds First Note of State Campaign: Tennessee First to Move," Jackson Whig, January 23, 1910, RSC, Box 1, Folder 20, Rockefeller Center Archives; Retired U.S. Navy Surgeon W. F. Arnold, "Hookworm Disease in the South," published 1906, Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm, Box 1, Folder 11, Rockefeller Center Archives; American Press Association, "Hookworm: The Greatest Menace to the American Family," RSC, Box 1, Folder 6, Rockefeller Center Archives; Dr. H. H. Howard, "Winston County Mississippi. THE NEGRO VS. HOOK WORM DISEASE," RSC, Box 8, Folder 134, Rockefeller Center Archives; Letter to C. W. Stiles from John Wilkerson, August 8, 1910, RSC, Box 4, Folder 78, Rockefeller Center Archives; Editorial, "The Hookworm Disease in the South," Southern Medical Journal, 2 (October 1909), 1049.

(32) Huntington, Civilization and Climate.

(33) Wickliffe Rose to Frederick T. Gates, June 28, 1911, IHB, RG 5, Series 200, Subseries 252, Box 19, Folder 113, Rockefeller Center Archives.

(34) See Alexander Saxton, The Rise and Fall of the White Republic: Class Politics and Mass Culture in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Norton, 1991); Grace Elizabeth Hale, Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1930 (New York: Knopf, 1999); and Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).

NATALIE J. RING

Tulane University
COPYRIGHT 2003 Mississippi State University
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Ring, Natalie J.
Publication:The Mississippi Quarterly
Geographic Code:1U700
Date:Sep 22, 2003
Words:5266
Previous Article:Painting the South with a Northern eye.
Next Article:"Disturbing the calculation": the narcissistic arithmetic of three southern writers.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters