Environment, Epidemics, and Eradication: Veracruz in Late 19th- and Early 20th-Century Mexican Public Health Initiatives

Thursday, January 5, 2017: 1:50 PM
Room 403 (Colorado Convention Center)
Beau Gaitors, Tulane University
In the early twentieth century Mexican governor Teodoro Dehesa implemented environmental policies in the port city of Veracruz to improve health conditions in working class housing communities.  His policies extended from local environmental conditions and international health concerns of physicians, such as Rudolph Matas of New Orleans, who conducted yellow fever research in Veracruz during the nineteenth century. This paper shows how, despite its marginal treatment in scholarly literature, Veracruz was deeply embedded in political and medical discourse about tropical disease eradication in the late nineteenth century as a key site in international yellow fever research. This paper argues that Veracruz existed as more than simply a commercially central space for the Mexican government as seen through the discourse surrounding public health in this economically vital port city.