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Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz from the age of empire to the post-gutenberg world: lingua franca and the culture of tropical medicine

The Oswaldo Cruz Institute, founded in 1900 as a public health initiative, represents the institutionalisation of empirical science in Brazil. In 1909 it launched a journal called Memórias doInstituto Oswaldo Cruz that now publishes only in English, but was multilingual when it began and continued to be so for much of its history, although the trajectories of the languages of publication differed greatly. If changes in language represent changes in network structure, these shifts in language policy reflect repositioning with regard to partnerships, colonialism/politics and the nature of the scientific community and the organisational development of the Institute. To better understand these changes, a diachronic analysis of the full corpus (1909-2013) of this journal was conducted. This corpus was analysed for foreign language frequency,origin and content as well as paratextual clues regarding Memórias’ editorial policy. Based on the results, distinct languagebased editorial periods were identified and the trajectories of individual foreign languages were traced. Foreign language quality was evaluated in an effort to clarify the agency and purpose of translation. Pursuant to these questions, an ancillary corpus, consisting of biographical editorials in Memórias, parallel Institute publications and correspondence, the language data and policies of national and international cohort journals, as well as extra-institutional publications, was examined. These sources revealed priorities in consumption, production and networking that clarified the previously-established editorial periods, as well as those of the general milieu of Tropical Medicine literature. A final dimension to the investigation was an explanatory analysis of these phenomena through norms specific to Anderson’s conception of imagined communities and Bourdieu’s conception of the institutionalized, objectified and embodied state, and, moreover, as a function of the postGutenberg paradigm shift due to the onset of digital publishing, which was predicted in the work of McLuhan and Ong.Though the journal was originally intended to promote the Institute’s research, a complex changing dialogue with international partners was revealed in a pattern that seems to defy colonial models prevalent in the field of Tropical medicine. The Institute seemed to thread a delicate balance between science as a form of nationalismand science as an independent metanational community, the fragility of which was tested by war, alliances, economic downturns and dictatorship. The onset of English as the journal’s only language of expression occurred quite late, at roughly the same time its electronic version appeared. This could have been an inevitable result of a new open editorial policy set in 1980, but it also seems due to a new level of interconnectivity in the scientific community precipitated by advancing communication technology, which would tend to confirm Anderson, McLuhan and Ong’s theories about communication technology as a fundamental driver of society.

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  • Hanes, William Franklin