The book examines the cholera epidemics in Tucumán, Argentina, during the second half of the nineteenth century in light of distinct national- and provincial-level moments in state formation. The book's main objective is to connect processes of medicalization, state formation, and societal efforts to deal with the disease. The 1867–68, 1886–87, and 1894–95 epidemics in Tucumán affected local and national politics, mobilized elites and state agents, and engendered debates within the medical community. Cholera accelerated state formation, causing great friction and tension between the federal and provincial governments.

Two concepts appear repeatedly. “Biomedical uncertainty” refers to the Argentine medical community's lack of consensus about cholera's origins, nature, and treatment. During much of the period, Argentine doctors blamed cholera on a combination of environmental factors, the lower classes' nonhygienic habits, and healers' equivocal advice. Whether cholera was transmitted by the air or through contaminated water remained unanswered. Biomedical uncertainty made common...

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