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Modern Colonization by Medical Intervention
U.S. Medicine in Puerto Rico
Good intentioned or not, Modern Colonization by Medical Intervention documents the often pernicious effect of physicians on the colonial project.
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.

What emerges is a ground breaking—and damning—account of the way that seemingly humanitarian efforts were used to oppress a subject population and maintain colonial rule.