Month: August 2012
Here are a few links to information about the history and geography of yellow fever.
One of the famous early investigators of Yellow Fever was Valentine Seaman, a surgeon at New York Hospital. In 1798, he published a map to support his argument that the city’s Yellow Fever outbreak was due to the smell that arose from the city’s garbage and sewage that had accumulated in the harbor area (Koch, 2005). His mapping long predated the mapping of John Snow.
More about Valentine Seaman
In the book, Cartography of Disease, Tom Koch presents the idea of the map as a “mapped argument about disease incidence an the environment that promoted it” (p.31), rather than an objective representation of reality.
Earlier in the book, he stated that maps are propositions and that “every map is an argument. Koch argues that maps shape our reality in the same way those realities are influenced by conventional text”. p7.
Thinking about maps in along the lines that Koch argues helps us to understand the deeper meaning of disease maps. This type of thinking helps us to look beyond graphic representations to the theoretical debate that persisted at the time the map was created, and to the particular theoretical position that the map maker took with respect to the debate. This approach to deconstructing map provides an intellectually stimulating way of studying historic disease maps.