Cholera at the junction of maritime and land routes in nineteenth-century Trieste
in Medicalising borders
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This chapter examines control over the movement of goods and people in epidemic circumstances, focusing on the case of nineteenth-century Trieste, and on the detention of individuals suspected of being disease carriers (of cholera in particular, as the city experienced several epidemic outbreaks at the time). Besides the key role the city played as a major Austrian trade port in the context of the Habsburg monarchy’s economy, its geopolitical position – situated close to both maritime and terrestrial political borders – enabled the observation of control mechanisms during the emergence of cholera. Quarantine (meaning detention of cargo and people as potential carriers of infection) was used almost exclusively in maritime transport, while control for overland transport was more lax. While the latter was mostly the domain of local (municipal) authorities, who could autonomously make decisions on the execution of health measures, the control over sea routes was more the purview of provincial authorities and was also subject to international sanitary rules. The connection between political, sanitary and economic authorities within the city, who were cooperating in these matters, also requires an interpretation of the contemporary theories as to the spread of infectious diseases and the role of these perceptions in the justification of economic interests.

Medicalising borders

Selection, containment and quarantine since 1800

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