Smallman, Shawn C.

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Smallman, Shawn C.

PERSONAL:

Education: Yale University, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Portland State University, OAA, P.O. Box 751, Portland, OR 97207. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Portland State University, Portland, OR, vice provost for academic affairs.

WRITINGS:

Fear & Memory in the Brazilian Army and Society, 1889-1954, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2002.

The AIDS Pandemic in Latin America, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2007.

Security and Defense Studies Review, board member.

SIDELIGHTS:

Shawn C. Smallman's study The AIDS Pandemic in Latin America provides an overview of the history of the disease in the region. Structuring the book according to subregion, Smallman discusses AIDS in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America, Brazil, and South America's Spanish-speaking countries. His analysis points out the striking differences among countries that experienced the epidemic, and offers insights to explain some of these contrasts. As Smallman points out, conditions in Latin America would suggest a high rate of AIDS: the region suffers extensive poverty, pervasive gender inequality and sex trading, IV drug abuse, a male homosexual subculture that remains underground, and overburdened public health systems. Yet, except in Haiti, AIDS rates have been relatively low. "Perhaps the most compelling question about Latin America's experience," he writes, "is why there [has] been so little spread of HIV."

Arguing that the spread of AIDS is a complex dynamic comprising cultural beliefs and political and economic forces as well as personal behavior, Smallman examines the spread of HIV in places with contrasting rates of infection to identify more precisely the factors that keep one country relatively unaffected while another suffers an epidemic. Honduras, for example, has the highest rates of infection in Central America while rates in Nicaragua have remained very low. According to some theories, HIV was introduced in the region by U.S. troops during the period when they were aiding the Nicaraguan Contras against the Sandinistas. Smallman finds no evidence to support this view, pointing out that the spread of the disease occurred principally in the central and northern parts of Honduras, while the Contras were mostly focused along the southern border of the country. While Smallman suggests that Nicaragua's relative isolation during the war may account for its low infection rate, he concludes that there is no clear explanation for the high rate of infection in Honduras.

Though many analyses focus on poverty as a primary factor in the spread of AIDS, Smallman argues that this emphasis on poverty may be misplaced. Bolivia, he writes, is one of the poorest countries in South America, yet has a low rate of infection; in Africa, the continent's wealthiest country, South Africa, has the highest number of people infected with HIV. As Shanti Avirgan observed in the NACLA Report on the Americas, "Smallman worries that a focus on poverty can ‘let both national elites and the international community off the hook,’ allowing them to point the finger at macroeconomic policies like structural adjustment and unfair terms of trade—obscuring the crucial role that political leadership can play in challenging stigma and defending the human rights of those infected, increasing popular awareness of effective prevention methods, and ensuring that those infected receive adequate treatment."

Smallman explains that many countries in Latin America have responded to the AIDS epidemic effectively, through creation of public health infrastructures and collaborative structures such as the Pan-American Health Organization. Throughout the region, grassroots activism has led to important policy changes. "HIV would have had a far more serious impact on Latin America," he writes, "if it had not been for the flowering of civil society that accompanied the region's democratization." Dick Maxwell, writing in Library Journal, praised The AIDS Pandemic in Latin America as a "thoroughly researched and well documented" study.

Smallman, vice provost for academic affairs at Portland State University, has also written Fear & Memory in the Brazilian Army and Society, 1889-1954. The book analyzes the militarization of Brazilian politics during this period through cooperation between the military and civil elites. Luso-Brazilian Review contributor Francisco César Alves Ferraz described the work as "an insightful essay" that raises questions that should prompt additional discussion.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Smallman, Shawn C., The AIDS Pandemic in Latin America, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2007.

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, December 1, 2003, Andrew J. Kirkendall, review of Fear & Memory in the Brazilian Army and Society, 1889-1954, p. 1499.

Americas: A Quarterly Review of Inter-American Cultural History, April 1, 2003, Hendrik Kraay, review of Fear & Memory in the Brazilian Army and Society, 1889-1954, p. 600.

Biography, September 22, 2002, review of Fear & Memory in the Brazilian Army and Society, 1889-1954, p. 602.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, December 1, 2002, review of Fear & Memory in the Brazilian Army and Society, 1889-1954, p. 688; December 1, 2002, W.M. Weis, review of Fear & Memory in the Brazilian Army and Society, 1889-1954, p. 688.

Hispanic American Historical Review, August 1, 2003, Todd A. Diacon, review of Fear & Memory in the Brazilian Army and Society, 1889-1954, p. 593.

International History Review, September 1, 2003, Peter M. Beattie, review of Fear & Memory in the Brazilian Army and Society, 1889-1954, p. 685.

Journal of Latin American Studies, May 1, 2003, Sonny B. Davis, review of Fear & Memory in the Brazilian Army and Society, 1889-1954, p. 403.

Journal of Military History, January 1, 2004, Roger A. Kittleson, review of Fear & Memory in the Brazilian Army and Society, 1889-1954, p. 271.

Library Journal, April 1, 2007, Dick Maxwell, review of The AIDS Pandemic in Latin America, p. 111.

Luso-Brazilian Review, winter, 2003, Francisco César Alves Ferraz, review of Fear & Memory in the Brazilian Army and Society, 1889-1954, p. 134.

NACLA Report on the Americas, September-October, 2007, Shanti Avirgan, review of The AIDS Pandemic in Latin America, p. 47.

Security and Defense Studies Review, fall, 2003, author profile.

ONLINE

Portland State University Center for Academic Excellence Web site,http://www.pdx.edu/cae/ (April 20, 2008), author profile.