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Poettering, Jorun (2018): Paradise for Whom? Conservatism and Progress in the Perception of Rio de Janeiro's Drinking-Water Supply, Sixteenth to Nineteenth Centuries. In: Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 50, No. 3: pp. 703-727
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Abstract

This article examines the ways in which the perception of Rio de Janeiro's drinking water contributed to shaping the city's hydric management in colonial and imperial times. Even though the general assessment of climate and vegetation changed from paradisiacal to noxious in the second half of the eighteenth century in accordance with Enlightenment ideas, this had no effect on the locals' appreciation of the city's drinking water. The criteria for evaluating the quality and quantity of available water were based on works from classical antiquity and remained essentially unchanged from early colonial times to the end of the empire. Not even population growth and increasing susceptibility to epidemics in the nineteenth century induced the authorities to reform the water supply system, as they were confident that the city was provided with good and abundant water by virtue of its natural predisposition.