Marriage of Convenience: Rockefeller International Health and Revolutionary Mexico

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In January 1921, after a decade of bloody warfare, Mexico's new government found an unlikely partner in its struggle to fulfill the Revolution's promises to the populace. An ambitious philanthropy, born of the wealth of America's most notorious capitalist, made its way into Mexico by offering money and expertise to counter a looming public health crisis. Why did the Rockefeller Foundation and Revolutionary Mexico get together, and how did their relationship last for 30-plus years amidst binational tensions, domestic turmoil, and institutional soul-searching? Transcending standard hagiographic accounts as well as simplistic arguments of cultural imperialism, Marriage of Convenience offers a nuanced analysis of the interaction between the foundation's International Health Division and the Departamento de Salubridad Pública as they jointly promoted public health through campaigns against yellow fever and hookworm disease, organized cooperative rural health units, and educated public health professionals in North American universities and Mexican training stations. Drawing from a wealth of archival sources in both Mexico and the United States, Birn uncovers the complex give-and-take of this early experience of international health cooperation. Birn's historical insights have continuing relevance for the rapidly evolving world of global health today. Anne-Emanuelle Birn is Canada Research Chair in International Health at the University of Toronto.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
An impressive piece of scholarship. HISPANIC AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW (Thomas F. O'Brien) Based on an impressive array of documents culled from archival collections in Mexico and the United States. . . . Birn expertly weaves the story of public health in Mexico, and the role played by the Rockefeller Foundation in shaping it, into the larger history of the revolutionary Mexican politics and reform efforts. . . . Despite the density of information provided, Birn's analysis is always focused, and she consistently shows the reader the connections between high politics and the day-to-day undertaking of public health. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW, April 2008 (Katherine Elaine Bliss) (A) work of rare maturity and insight . . . Birn's study is essential reading for students of Mexican history, scholars of international and global health, and those interested in the nature of global philanthropy. BULLETIN OF LATIN AMERICAN RESEARCH, 2008 (Steven Palmer) Birn's book helps us track an evolving circulation of ideas, people, practices, and power and provides an invaluable . . . insight into today's world of international health. --Charles E. Rosenberg, Ernest Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences, Harvard University Birn gives a prescient, nuanced, and deeply intelligent account of the relationship between the Rockefeller Foundation and the state in shaping public health in post-revolutionary Mexico. Brilliantly written in a highly inviting style, this is an "absolute must-read" for academics, policy makers, and activists concerned with the past and increasingly complex face of global health in the future. --James Orbinski, Associate Professor of Medicine and Political Science, University of Toronto, and former international President of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders This impeccably researched, extremely accessible volume sets a new standard for studies of international public health. Steeped in recent innovative scholarship on global health, transnationality, and the close and often incongruous imperial encounters that circumscribe philanthropic initiatives, Marriage of Convenience crafts a richly textured account of the Rockefeller's extended relationship with Revolutionary Mexico. --Gilbert M. Joseph, Farnam Professor of History and International Studies, Yale University, and co-editor of Close Encounters of Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.-Latin American Relations
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580462228
  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/15/2006
  • Series: Rochester Studies in Medical History , #8
  • Pages: 446
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction : the fever of international health 1
1 A match made in heaven? 15
2 Hooked on hookworm 61
3 Going local 117
4 You say you want an institution 175
5 Ingredients of a relationship 234
Epilogue : international health's convenient marriage 267
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