In this chapter, we propose a broad perspective of the sources available for the development of studies of endemic and epidemic malaria in past societies. The complexity of malaria as a disease is related to a variety of elements (environment, climatic oscillations, and human production and cultivation patterns). Historically, the study of malaria was integrated into the study of fevers in general. Indeed, malaria is a protean disease that interacts in positive, negative, and synergetic ways with other eukaryotic, viral, and bacterial diseases. Because of that, the word “fevers” conflates a wide range of diseases and symptoms that can also help us to detect the prevalence of malaria and relationships between the disease and environmental factors. Terms such as fevers, intermittent fevers, agues, and marshland fevers can be easily found in historical sources, print sources, and a large amount of documentation produced by state-municipal authorities, by physicians, and found in burial records. In sum, these represent the diversity of points of view involved in our research. Using as an example the case of Barcelona in the late eighteenth century, we show some results based on a methodology with a strong interdisciplinary basis.
Part of the book: Current Topics in Malaria