History of a socio-spatial disease: Tuberculosis in the city of Barcelona (1931-1936) (Celia Miralles Buil)

Lisbon, May 17, 13h
Faculty of Sciences and Technology, NOVA University, Building VII, Amphitheatre 2A
This lecture is part of the CIUHCT lectures cycle.


At the beginning of the 20th century, tuberculosis, the “social disease” of the nineteenth century, was still associated with misery in the collective imagination. The construction of tuberculosis as a social disease, as well as the measures taken to prevent and cure it, have already been studied (D. Barnes, J. Molero Mesa). This conference aims to explore the relationship between tuberculosis and urban space, taking as a case-study the city of Barcelona during the 2nd Republic (1929-1936, before the Civil war). It will argue that the white plague was not only approached as a social disease, but it was also built as a spatial problem, and more specifically an urban problem.

Focusing on the discourses of the physicians, the first part of the conference will show how the bacteriological theory that prevailed in the beginning of the twentieth century and the improvement of hygiene conditions led to a redefinition of the link between tuberculosis and urban space. By studying the concrete practices of the various actors involved (doctors, architects, hygienists, public authorities), the second part will explain how this new socio-spatial fight against tuberculosis was organized in Barcelona during the Republican period. Finally, the conference will also deal with the patients and their experience of the disease and the healthcare services. This perspective allows to introduce nuances to the vision proposed by the authorities and the “experts” and suggests a new kind of relation between tuberculosis and the city.

About the speaker (in portuguese)

Celia Miralles Buil é historiadora e investigadora de pós-doutoramento no CIUHCT. Em 2014, defendeu uma tese em história e urbanismo intitulada "A tuberculose no espaço social de Barcelona 1929-1936" (Université Lyon 2, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya).

Os seus interesses de investigação situam-se na encruzilhada entre a história da medicina e a história urbana. Está atualmente a estudar a relação entre a saúde e o ambiente marinho nas cidades portuárias do sul da Europa no final do século XIX e na primeira metade do século XX.