Medicine and Public Health in the Atlantic World

AHA Session 42
Conference on Latin American History 7
Friday, January 6, 2012: 9:30 AM-11:30 AM
Chicago Ballroom A (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Julia E. Rodriguez, University of New Hampshire
Adrián López-Denis, University of Delaware

Session Abstract

Looking at the history and medicine from an Atlantic perspective, this session examines how transnational networks linked doctors, scientists, and public health officials in various corners of the Atlantic world. Panelists explore the idea of a multi-centered Atlantic world, where knowledge circulated in all directions and between various nodes. Bringing together scholars of the early modern and modern Atlantic, this session builds on the new history of medicine by highlighting the international ties that shaped the making of medical knowledge. This panel will be of interest to historians of medicine and to historians of the Atlantic world and its subregions. David Sowell focuses on the Mexican province of Yucatán and examines the changing relationship between Yucatec doctors and the rest of the Atlantic biomedical community. He argues that despite its gradual peripheralization in the twentieth century, the Yucatec medical community continued to participate in Atlantic debates. In his paper, Julien Comte examines the transatlantic circulation of medical knowledge on syphilis before the advent of penicillin in the 1940s. Focusing on New York and Buenos Aires and shedding light on the networks that linked these two cities with the rest of the Atlantic world, Comte reevaluates the relationship between so-called peripheral scientific communities and traditional centers of medical innovation. Katherine Arner’s presentation traces the emergence, character, practices and expansion of the New York-based journal the Medical Repository. Scholarship has often regarded this serial publication as the first national medical journal geared toward domestic audiences. Arner recasts it as one of the first transnational enterprises that grew out of the collaboration of Americans and multiple peripheral actors in the Atlantic world. Jessica Allison examines how the University of Havana Medical School borrowed and adapted foreign programs in an effort to reform medical education in Cuba. In particular, she looks at the relationship between Cuban physicians and the Rockefeller Foundation, whose expertise and advice they solicited. Allison concludes that Cubans tailored American recommendations to suit the environment, strengths, and limitations of the island.

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