Modern Colonization by Medical Intervention

U.S. Medicine in Puerto Rico


Modern Colonization by Medical Intervention adds to our understanding of the political and economic transformations establishing colonial modernity in Puerto Rico. By focusing on influential physicians’ clinical work and their access to a remote and inaccessible rural population, this volume details how rural areas suffered the ravages of social dislocation, unemployment and hunger. The colonial administration’s hookworm campaign involved many Puerto Rican physicians in complex struggles with other elites, rural peasants and U.S. colonial administrators for political legitimacy. Puerto Rican physicians did not gain the professional autonomy their counterparts in the United States enjoyed. Instead, they became centrally implicated in the struggle between labor and capital enforcing the island’s subordination to a colonial modernity and the development of capitalism on the island.
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EUR €115.00USD $147.00

Biographical Note

Nicole Trujillo-Pagán, Ph.D. (2003), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Latina/o Studies at Wayne State University. She has published articles and book chapters on Latinos and state policy.

Review Quote

"Trujillo-Pagán’s book is provocative, and invites scholars most likely from history, anthropology, medicine, and public health to read, and why not, do similar tasks in colonial and postcolonial scenarios. [... Her] analysis provides analytic tools for critically approaching and understanding medical interventions, the emergence of public health, and the clashes that emerge between allopathic medicine and other ways of understanding death and sickness under processes of modernization and colonialism. [...] This book is an invitation to create post-Foucauldian analyses in the tropics to reveal power and resistance relationships in the context of medical and public health discourses and practices. Héctor Camilo Ruiz Sánchez (University of Pittsburgh, USA), International Sociology Reviews 2015, Vol. 30(5) 467–471.

Table of contents

List of Tables and Figures 1. A Matter of Life and Death Economy and Social Conditions: Labor and Hunger Medicine: Hookworms Method The Scholarship on Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Hookworm in Puerto Rico Chapter Outline 2. Anemia and Autonomy A “New” Colonial Structure Bread and Butter Issues Party Politics Anemia, Autonomy and the Public Health Administration in Puerto Rico The Changing Meaning of Professional and Political Autonomy 3. Colonial Interventions on Public Health and the Bifurcation of Puerto Rican Medicine The Hookworm-Anemia Campaign as Public Health 4. National Physicians and Professional Prestige Professional Status Status in Urban and “Threatening” Rural Spaces Medical Practitioners in the Late Nineteenth Century: One of Many Municipal Physicians and State Competition: Spain Licensing and State Control Under Spanish Colonial Authority Elite Physicians’ Ideas about their Imagined Community (the Nation) Ideas about the Nation: From Spanish to U.S. colonization Licensing and State Control under U.S. Colonial Authority Municipal Physicians and U.S. State Competition: The Public Health Administration The Asociación Médica de Puerto Rico: Nationalism, Class and Labor Professional Presentation and Status 5. Race, “Progress” and National Identity Professionals and Intellectuals among Liberal Elites Labor as Progress Land as Tropical Environment Social Conditions and the Colonial Relationship Death and Resuscitation in Tropical Medicine Recapitalizing Elites The War Waged in the Utuado Clinic Soiling Land and the Right to Rebel The Medical Men who Shaped a New Medical Discourse 6. Decolonizing Dominant Narratives The Public Interest(s) Colonial Modernity The Colonial Narrative and The Great Man of Puerto Rican Medical Science Puerto Rican Physicians: Double Binds and Messy Realities Tropical Medicine and Global Health Post- and Neo-Coloniality Bibliography Index


Students and scholars interested in a) the history of medicine and/or Puerto Rico, b) comparative-historical methods, c) the sociology of the profession, d) political sociology and/or colonialism/neocolonialism/postcolonialism.