Nuno Silva, Sebastiao


Max Weber alumnus

Department of History and Civilization

Cohort(s): 2013/2014

Ph.D. Institution

University of Oxford, United Kingdom


I completed my PhD at the University of Oxford in 2013. The subject of my dissertation, ‘The Land of Flies, Children and Devils: The Sleeping Sickness epidemic in the Island of Príncipe (1870s-1914)’, is the history of a disease, sleeping sickness, in the island of Príncipe, off the West coast of Africa. During the second half of the 19th century, the island’s ecology was significantly transformed by the success of its cocoa plantations, and sleeping sickness became a deadly epidemic. This situation led to the creation of an anti-sleeping sickness plan, which was implemented in 1911. Although at odds with what were considered the best practices developed in other European countries, this plan resulted, probably for the first time in history, in the complete eradication of the disease's vector in 1914.
With the Max Weber Fellowship I intend to bring my research full circle. My objective is to deepen my study of the scientific language that moulded the political discourse which led to this medical intervention in Africa, and influenced much of the legislation on social issues during this period throughout Europe.
Fields of expertise: History of Medicine (particularly Colonial Medicine), Modern European Colonialism/Modern Atlantic World, History of Scientific Networks in Tropical Medicine, History and Philosophy of Science, Modern Portuguese History.
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