In La ciudad impura, Diego Armus examines the cultural and medical history of tuberculosis during the transitional period between Koch’s bacteriological discoveries and the advent of antibiotics. As with syphilis, which was only identified in 1905, there was a long period between the identification of the disease’s etiology, the tuberculosis bacillus, and the development of an effective cure. Armus argues that many of the responses to the disease resulted from the conceptual collision between traditional, and often moralistic, interpretations of tuberculosis and new but unstable scientific understandings of its transmission and pathology.

Tuberculosis, which Armus interprets as both a subjective disease entity and as a socially constructed constellation of meanings, provides a useful window into porteños’ anxieties, aspirations, and dreams about living (and dying) in the modern era. “The metaphors, associations, and various perceptions” of the illness as expressed by doctors, journalists, city planners, dramaturges, songwriters, and the...

You do not currently have access to this content.