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March 29, 2023

The Politics of Cholera: The Americas in the 1830s

Four men in hats at work

In the nineteenth century, cholera caused more deaths than any other epidemic across the world. The second global cholera outbreak reached the Americas in 1832, where the disease was seen through social and religious lenses, and many thought its cause was poverty, race, or divine punishment. The Americas Forum welcomed Alfredo Ávila, researcher and professor of history at the National University of Mexico, to share his research as he pursues a comparative analysis of the impact of cholera on politics in the United States, Mexico, and Guatemala during the nineteenth century.

This event was organized by the Americas Forum and co-sponsored by the Georgetown Americas Institute at Georgetown University.


Alfredo Ávila is a researcher and professor of history at the National University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, UNAM), where he earned his Ph.D. Long recognized as a leading analyst of the politics of Mexican independence, he is author of En nombre de la Nación: La formación del gobierno representative en México, 1808-1824 (2002), to many still the leading synthesis of Mexico’s struggles for independence, and Para la Libertad: Los republicanos en tiempos del imperio, 1822-1823 (2005), an essential study of the fall of Mexico’s early experiment in monarchical rule. Ávila has taught at El Colegio de México, the University of Buenos Aires, the University of São Paulo, and Georgetown University. He served as president of the Mexican Committee on Historical Studies and currently is editor of H-México.

John Tutino is professor of history and international affairs, and director of the Americas Forum at Georgetown. He is author of Mexico City, 1808: Power, Sovereignty, and Silver in an Age of War and Revolution (2018) and editor of New Countries: Capitalism, Nations, and Revolutions in the Americas, 1750-1870 (2016), a work in which Alfredo Ávila and Tutino co-authored the case study of Mexico.