Monuments of Progress: Modernization and Public Health in Mexico City, 1876-1910

Monuments of Progress: Modernization and Public Health in Mexico City, 1876-1910

Monuments of Progress: Modernization and Public Health in Mexico City, 1876-1910

Monuments of Progress: Modernization and Public Health in Mexico City, 1876-1910

Synopsis

In this groundbreaking book, Claudia Agostoni examines modernization in Mexico City during the era of Porfirio Díaz. With detailed analyses of the objectives and activities of the Superior Sanitation Council, and, in particular, the work of the sanitary inspectors, Monuments of Progress : Modernization and Public Health in Mexico City, 1876-1910 provides a fresh take on the history of medicine and public health by shifting away from the history of epidemic disease and heroic accounts of medical men and toward looking at public health in a broader social framework. She outlines the relationship between "enlightened" ideals of orderliness and hygiene to Mexican initiatives in public health. The implementation of new health policies and programs were of utmost importance for the symbolic legitimation of Porfirio Díaz's long-lasting regime (1876-1910), which emphasized modernization over individual rights and liberties. Agostoni's unique study builds on a small, but fast-growing, body of literature on the history of public health in Latin America and represents a growing interest in the social and cultural history of public health in this area.

Excerpt

The period in Mexican history known as the Porfiriato, which is the time of the governments of General Porfirio Díaz (1876–80, 1884–1911) and of General Manuel González (1880–84), has been a topic of study for more than a century. Numerous books, articles and theses have dealt with the issues of state formation and finance, foreign investment, industrialization, agriculture, rural conditions, and the causes and events which led to the 1910 Revolution. This book does not explore any of the issues mentioned above. It concentrates, rather, on particular questions of the environment and public health in Mexico City during the Porfiriato, when the city had less than half a million inhabitants and when the excess of water was regarded as perhaps the most threatening factor to public health and to the very existence of the capital.

The objective of this study is to analyze and discuss why the construction of public works (the drainage system and historical monuments) embodied materially and symbolically the confidence of an era of “order” and “progress” in a context of a largely non-modern society, and why it was thought that the construction of public works would transform the city into a health-giving environment.

During the final decades of the nineteenth century, Mexico City was considered as the most unsanitary place in the world, and this image contrasted sharply with the achievements which statistics ably displayed in the sectors of industry, mines, and commerce. According to the Porfirian elite, the city had two major . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.