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Coronavirus

Anti-Vaxxers Of Yore: Pandemic History Is Rife With Conspiracy Theories

Debates around COVID-19 are now fueled by conspiracy theories, fake news and scapegoats. But as the story of Quebec in the 19th century makes clear, pandemics have always been linked to outbreaks of mass skepticism and witch hunts.

Anti-Vaxxers Of Yore: Pandemic History Is Rife With Conspiracy Theories

Dr. Johan Beetz and his sons

Boucar Diouf

Last summer, Quebecois comedian, storyteller and biologist Boucar Diouf featured an episode of a radio show with Denis Goulet, an associate professor at the University of Montreal and a specialist in the history of medicine. They talked about Goulet’s book, "Brève histoire des épidémies au Québec – du choléra à la COVID-19" (“A Brief History Of Epidemies in Quebec — from Cholera to COVID-19”).

MONTREAL — Let’s go back to Montreal between 1875 and 1885. Although waves of smallpox were raging like Facebook trolls, many francophones refused the vaccine to protect themselves against the disease. Some columnists and clergymen even started a rumor that the British authorities were trying to weaken the French Canadian population by injecting poison into their veins! An anglophone newspaper went as far as to peddle the idea that the virus was spreading due to the bad hygiene of francophones.

That’s just how it goes; the witch hunt for scapegoats is tied to the history of epidemics. You can even find doctors ready to testify that vaccines are useless. It should be noted that at the time, vaccines — made using a virus with a weakened virulence — had their risks. Contrary to today’s hyper-safe vaccines, the vials of yore sometimes contained microbes that were “healthy” enough to infect someone during their vaccination.

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Society

Urban Indigenous: How Peru's Shipibo-Conibo Keep Amazon Culture Alive In The City

For four years, indigenous photographer David Díaz Gonzales has documented the lives and movements of his Shipibo-Conibo community, as many of them migrated from their native Peruvian Amazon to the city. A work of remembrance and resistance.

For Shipibo-Conibo women, sporting a fringe is usually a sign of celebration or ceremony.

Rosa Chávez Yacila

YARINACOCHA — It was decades ago when the Shipibo-Conibo left their settlements along the banks of the Ucayali River, in eastern Peru, to begin a great migration to the cities. Still among the largest Amazonian communities in Peru — 32,964 according to the Ministry of Culture — though most Shipibo-Conibo now live in the urban district of Yarinacocha.

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