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Picture of A Population History of the Missions of the Jesuit Province of Paraquaria

A Population History of the Missions of the Jesuit Province of Paraquaria

Author(s): Robert H. Jackson

Book Description

Scholars have debated the demographic consequences for the indigenous populations of the Americas of 1492, the beginning of sustained contact between the Old and New Worlds. Some have hypothesized an initial die-off of indigenous population resulting from the introduction of highly contagious crowd diseases such as smallpox and measles. So-called “virgin soil” epidemics caused catastrophic mortality that culled the indigenous populations, and some scholars such as the late Henry Dobyns hypothesized a rate of decline of around 90 percent as epidemics spread across the Americas like a miasmic cloud. However, over the course of generations, the indigenous populations developed immunities to the maladies, and recovered.

This book presents a detailed case study of indigenous populations congregated on Jesuit missions in lowland South America that challenges the basic assumptions of the model of “virgin soil” epidemics. It shows that epidemic mortality varied between communities, and that catastrophic mortality occurred on some mission communities generations after first sustained contact. It concludes that patterns of demographic change among indigenous populations were far more complex than is often assumed. This study is of interest to specialists in historical demography, colonial Spanish America, Native American history, and the history of Spanish frontier missions.


ISBN-13: 978-1-5275-3367-7
ISBN-10: 1-5275-3367-0
Date of Publication: 01/07/2019
Pages / Size: 343 / A5
Price: £64.99


Robert H. Jackson received his doctorate in 1988 from the University of California, Berkeley with a specialization in Latin American history. He has authored, co-authored, and edited 22 books and some 70 journal articles and book chapters on different aspects of Latin American history. His most recent studies include Demographic Change and Ethnic Survival among the Sedentary Populations on the Jesuit Mission Frontiers of Spanish South America, 1609-1803: The Formation and Persistence of Mission Communities in a Comparative Context (2015), Frontiers of Evangelization: Indians in the Sierra Gorda and Chiquitos Missions (2017), and Regional Conflict and Demographic Patterns on the Jesuit Missions among the Guaraní in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (2019).