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Missionaries of Science: The Rockefeller Foundation and Latin America

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U.S.-latin american relations;international relations;global economic depression;world war II;communism
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International health organizations emerged in the 19th century as a means to reconcile the needs of a world of increasing trade and mobility with the increasing threat of the spread of diseases. Inexorably, they have assumed a growing list of responsibilities. Throughout the 20th century, their work has been torn between two approaches to health: one biomedical, which saw health as a function of pathogens and diseases and called for vertical campaigns against specific diseases, another social, which considered diseases mere symptoms of underlying problems of poverty and inequality and which favored horizontal programs of social change. Inevitably, the activities of international health organizations like the Rockefeller Foundation, the League of Nations Health Organisation, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and others have maneuvered between those positions. The international eradication campaigns against malaria (unsuccessful) and smallpox (successful) and the principles adopted at the Conference of Alma-Ata stand out as pivotal examples of biomedical and social approaches to health in the post-WWII period. Implicitly, international health organizations have provided a mirror image of how those in power, the community of nations and – eventually – all citizens and voters, have decided to organize their interaction with their biological environments, their material and immaterial resources, their political priorities, and with each other.
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The arrival of the Rockefeller Foundation in Brazil coincides with a period where the catholic church, destituted of its political powers due to the Announcement of the Republic, undertakes a campaign against other religions (such as the Protestants). Receptioned in general with the enthusiasm of the medical class and the diffidence of the population. The scientific philanthropy of the Rockefeller Commission was interpreted as "charity", one of the most important pillars of the catholicism, especially in Minas Gerais, one of the most catholic and conservative states of Brazil. The pioneering action of the Rockefeller Commission in Capela Nova de Betim tested treatments of hookworm and was important for the agreement of how should the relationship with the population be. The "charity" of the Rockefeller was approved and took in the advantage by the Government to establish a basic partnership to combat endemic diseases in the assembly of prophylaxis and in the dissemination of the rules of hygiene.
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This article provides a general introduction to the historiography of the history of science and technology in Latin America and presents an overview of the field's principal themes, with especial focus on how these have been addressed in English-language historical works. It engages the problems associated with constructing synthetic historical narratives and suggests ways of addressing these by using micro-histories to explain the relationship between the local, the national, and the transnational within the analytical framework afforded by intellectual history, history of science and of technology.
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of scholarship in the history of philanthropy and to highlight the diverse range of materials and subjects covered in the collections at the Rockefeller Archive Center. The reports are drawn from essays submitted by researchers who have visited the Archive Center, many of whom have received grants from the Archive Center to support their research. The ideas and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and are not intended to represent the Rockefeller Archive Center or The Rockefeller University. This paper aims to contribute to the history of Brazilian educational and research institutions and at the same time to provide elements for the discussion on the nature of scientific organizations and how they operate. I also will address the larger issues facing research centers in Brazil, particularly the evolution and survival of scientific traditions in a context of institutional problems and scarcity of resources. My research focuses on history of the Instituto de Higiene, created in 1918 through a signed agreement between the State of Sao Paulo, the Sao Paulo School of Medicine and Surgery, and the International Health Board (IHB), an affiliate of the Rockefeller Foundation. Emerging in a period of intense institution-building in the field of biomedical science, the Institute of Hygiene is a telling case of the successful merging of state modernization targets and international aid. The work seeks to outline the process of the institutional reorganization of Brazilian science, highlighting the first steps of the scientific traditions that burgeoned in the Instituto de Higiene, as well as its process of consolidation. The organizational challenges have been given special attention. Having established a reputation for serious teaching and research, the institute was nevertheless affected by the crises that shook profoundly the national scientific establishment, such as scarcity of resources, instability and disruption in management, internal conflicts and external pressures. Relying mainly on primary sources from the Rockefeller Archive Center, this paper works with historical data, covering the years from the creation of the Institute of Hygiene until its consolidation in the 1940s. Some aggregate data on science policies, politics and administration, from Brazilian and foreign historical literature are used to depict the scientific and administrative context of the period.
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The article analyzes representations of sport and medicine in the output of the American artist Thomas Eakins, one of the most influential and original in the United States during the transition between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is based on the presupposition that Eakins was able to translate esthetically a plethora of representations related to modernity, including the prelude to intimate relationships and, in an age still sui generis, the practice of sports, health and medicine, transmitted through the idea of a show. This study hopes to be one more contribution to the promotion of what we have called a social archeology of sports, a prospecting of its presence among social networks and webs.
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Brandeis University, Women's Studies Research Center, 515 South Street 02454, Waltham, MA 0245, USA. E-mail: pninaga@brandeis.edu
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This paper examines interpretations of the drought problem in Brazil's northeast sertão during the First Republic. It compares analysis of drought as primarily a natural or climatic phenomenon – embraced by civil engineers working for the Inspetoria [Federal] de Obras Contra as Secas (IFOCS) – with analyses emphasizing social and political conditions that made drought a crisis for the sertanejo poor. The latter are evident in the report of doctors Belisário Penna and Artur Neiva describing their expedition through the sertão sponsored by IFOCS in 1912. This comparison allows for consideration of the intersection between natural (geographic, climatic) and social (political, cultural) factors that produced the region's periodic crisis. The analysis is informed by the work of social scientists who highlight the multi-dimensional causes underlying natural disasters in politically marginal communities. Technocrats' faith in the context-independent utility of their expertise lay at the heart of IFOCS's ultimate failure to rescue sertanejos from famine, migration and poverty. Because the drought agency's technical personnel never had the political will or muscle to confront the social organization underlying the sertão's recurrent calamity, their ability to alleviate the human suffering that droughts precipitated was severely limited.
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This essay surveys some recent trends in the historiography of science and colonialism and their connection to the new cultural history and postcolonial studies. It emphasizes the importance of actors from the colonial world, particularly the subaltern, and the processes of change both in the colonized and the colonizer in the development of modern science. Likewise, it examines the absence of the United States in the studies of science and imperialism. Based on some of the few studies on the topic, it proposes new tools to understand the origin of the imperial character of U.S. science, as well as the influence of scientific practices in the twentieth-century expansion of the United States. It ends with a concrete case study that illustrates how the growth of the United States’ international networks affected the development of the natural sciences in the first half of the twentieth century.
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The accomplishments of Latin American social medicine remain little known in the English-speaking world. In Latin America, social medicine differs from public health in its definitions of populations and social institutions, its dialectic vision of “health–illness,” and its stance on causal inference. A “golden age” occurred during the 1930s, when Salvador Allende, a pathologist and future president of Chile, played a key role. Later influences included the Cuban revolution, the failed peaceful transition to socialism in Chile, the Nicaraguan revolution, liberation theology, and empowerment strategies in education. Most of the leaders of Latin American social medicine have experienced political repression, partly because they have tried to combine theory and political practice—a combination known as “praxis.” Theoretic debates in social medicine take their bearings from historical materialism and recent trends in European philosophy. Methodologically, differing historical, quantitative, and qualitative approaches aim to avoid perceived problems of positivism and reductionism in traditional public health and clinical methods. Key themes emphasize the effects of broad social policies on health and health care; the social determinants of illness and death; the relationships between work, reproduction, and the environment; and the impact of violence and trauma.
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1culminates a series of WHO projects on economic issues in health policy, health services, and public health. A focus on economic development and productivity partly indicates increased funding of WHO activities by the World Bank. Many of the conceptual and methodological approaches discussed in the report mirror those of the World Bank (panel 1). 1–3
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The evolution of international health has typically been assessed from the standpoint of central institutions (international health organizations, foundations, and development agencies) or of one-way diffusion and influence from developed to developing countries. To deepen understanding of how the international health agenda is shaped, I examined the little-known case of Uruguay and its pioneering role in advancing and institutionalizing child health as an international priority between 1890 and 1950. The emergence of Uruguay as a node of international health may be explained through the country’s early gauging of its public health progress, its borrowing and adaptation of methods developed overseas, and its broadcasting of its own innovations and shortcomings.
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Early in the twentieth century it was shown that Mendel's laws apply to plants and animals and that genes reside on chromosomes. In the 1950s the double-helix model of DNA inaugurated the molecular biology era, which culminated at the end of the century with the publication of the human genome sequence. Although the early response to discoveries in genetics was slow in Mexico, the Green Revolution and other agricultural applications of genetic knowledge contributed greatly to economic welfare, and by the end of the millennium Mexican genetics had reached world-class status at several universities and research institutions.
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