To Die in the Silence of History: Tuberculosis Epidemics and Yup’ik Peoples of Southwestern Alaska

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In what follows I explore some of the processes that are implicated in the massive social transformations that have taken place for Central Alaska Yup’ik peoples (including Cup’ik speakers) of southwestern Alaska over the course of the twentieth century. The violence and trauma in its myriad forms that circumscribed the twentieth century for Yup’iks reworked not only individual lives, but altered in the process much of the connective bonds of kin and community life, the collective basis of indigenous wellbeing. This chapter highlights the social consequences of the tuberculosis epidemics that have been largely overlooked in understanding contemporary Yup’ik lives. I suggest that in fact it was a watershed moment that must be understood alongside of and in relation to two other major transformations for Yup’ik people in the first half of the twentieth century; missionization and the introduction of merchant capital. In this chapter I point to some of the historical ruptures and dislocations that are critical to any understanding of the seemingly inexplicable disparities in the social and economic circumstances for some Yup’ik peoples at the beginning and end of the twentieth century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationConfronting Capital
Subtitle of host publicationCritique and Engagement in Anthropology
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781136257483
ISBN (Print)9780415896290
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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