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EpidemicsHate and Compassion from the Plague of Athens to AIDS$
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Samuel K. Cohn, Jr.

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198819660

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198819660.001.0001

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Plague since 1894

Plague since 1894


(p.311) 14 Plague since 1894

Samuel K. Cohn, Jr.

Oxford University Press

The plague riots in India, which amassed crowds of up to 10,000, followed by strikes and shop closures, were larger than cholera’s, and arrests and executions could also surpass cholera-related repression. Occasionally, myths spread of doctors poisoning Indians or selling their body parts for cures, and some have concluded that plague and cholera riots were much the same. They were not. While cholera violence drove deep wedges into the fabric of societies, plague riots united communities, even Muslims and Hindus, in common cause against abusive military searches and colonial measures that violated religious customs, destroyed property, and humiliated women. In contrast to cholera riots, which showed few signs of pre-planning or leadership, petitions, peaceful demonstrations, and efforts to negotiate usually preceded the plague protests. Unlike cholera riots, plague protests did not turn on distrust of Western medicine. Instead, Indians lambasted governments for not pursuing the latest scientific findings.

Keywords:   plague, India, riots, strikes, peaceful demonstrations, mythologies of poisoning, Muslims, Hindus, humiliation of women, segregation camps

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