Joshua Doyle-Raso's MA Thesis Defence - "Obstacle or Agency? The Rockefeller Foundation’s anti-hookworm campaign in Colombia, 1919-1934"
Date and Time
MacKinnon Ext. Rm. 2020
Student: Joshua Doyle-Raso Date: Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Time: 9:30 am
Place: MacKinnon Ext. Rm. 2020
Title: Obstacle or Agency? The Rockefeller Foundation’s anti-hookworm campaign in Colombia,1919-1934
Advisor: Stuart McCook Chair: Elizabeth Ewan
Committee Member: Karen Racine
External Examiner: Kris Inwood
In the twentieth century, the Rockefeller Foundation was invited to extend its anti-hookworm program to Colombia. The point of the anti-hookworm campaign was twofold. First, to develop public health infrastructures and introduce people worldwide to American ways of understanding health, and second, to ensure the stability of national and international commerce. This project explores how the priorities of the foundation and of the Colombian actors involved were often at odds, and how these encounters reshaped, or failed to reshape, the operations and organization of the Rockefeller program in Colombia. Though the campaign operated nation-wide, this thesis focuses on the Colombian coffee community, government, and professional medical community. It begins by illustrating how the Colombian medical community sought to deal with hookworm prior to the Rockefeller arrival. Next, the thesis examines the period of direct American involvement in hookworm work. Last, the thesis touches on the Colombian nationalization of the public health infrastructure following the foundation’s departure. Ultimately, the Rockefeller Foundation’s insistence on routine methods and inflexible attitude toward Colombia’s changing realities meant that Colombians exercising agency were viewed as obstacles to be overcome, rather than people with priorities to be engaged with meaningfully. The foundation’s failure to engage with many Colombians’ priorities resulted in a long and slow evolution whereby the Rockefeller agents in the country felt they only met lasting success in the 1930s, more than a decade after the start of the campaign.