What does it mean to be a physician activist in a middle income or poor country? Since 1917, the Mexican constitution has guaranteed universal healthcare for all workers. Yet making this constitutional promise a reality has been a persistent challenge that remains unresolved today. Mexican physicians have often been caught in the middle of political and policy discussions about the delivery of universal health care. Indeed, in 20th-century Mexico, physicians redefined their roles as healers and became activists, anthropologists, protestors, and, in some instances, guerrillas. This talk examines two distinct moments in Mexican history—1936, when all medical students were required to practice in the country’s socially marginal areas, and a mid-1960s medical movement that led some physicians to join an urban guerrilla group—in order to examine the changing role of Mexican physicians.
Free and open to the public. Advance registration required; please register online.
Gabriela Soto Laveaga is Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her current research focuses on the importance of healthcare providers in social movements and the role of health care in the formation of modern states. Her book Jungle Laboratories: Mexican Peasants, National Projects and the Making of the Pill (Duke University Press, 2009) won the 2010 Robert K. Merton Best Book prize in Science, Knowledge, and Technology Studies from the American Sociological Association. She has published on traditional medicine, soap operas and population health, rural medicine, and steroid hormones in Mexico. She has begun research on what will become her third monograph, a project that examines hunger, scientific agriculture, and development projects in both India and Mexico.