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Enemy in the Blood

Malaria, Environment, and Development in Argentina

Eric Carter

Publication Year: 2012

Enemy in the Blood: Malaria, Environment, and Development in Argentina examines the dramatic yet mostly forgotten history of malaria control in northwest Argentina. Carter traces the evolution of malaria science and policy in Argentina from the disease’s emergence as a social problem in the 1890s to its effective eradication by 1950. Malaria-control proponents saw the campaign as part of a larger project of constructing a modern identity for Argentina. Insofar as development meant building a more productive, rational, and hygienic society, the perceptions of a culturally backwards and disease-ridden interior prevented Argentina from joining the ranks of “modern” nations. The path to eradication, however, was not easy due to complicated public health politics, inappropriate application of foreign malaria control strategies, and a habitual misreading of the distinctive ecology of malaria in the northwest, especially the unique characteristics of the local mosquito vector. Homegrown scientific expertise, a populist public health agenda, and an infusion of new technologies eventually brought a rapid end to malaria’s scourge, if not the cure for regional underdevelopment.

Enemy in the Blood sheds light on the often neglected history of northwest Argentina’s interior, adds to critical perspectives on the history of development and public health in modern Latin America, and demonstrates the merits of integrative socialenvironmental research.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xviii

No work of scholarship is ever a solo effort, so i have many people to thank for their contributions to this book, over a decade in the making.
in Argentina, three scholars were key facilitators of this research, especially in its earliest and most precarious stages. the late Dr. Alfredo G. Kohn Loncarica oriented me, intellectually and socially, when i started this project...

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Introduction: A Sickness in the Land

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pp. 1-16

In 1937, Alfredo Palacios, one of Argentina’s most recognizable politicians, went on a fact- finding mission to the country’s impoverished northwestern provinces.1 Although he represented the city of Buenos Aires in the national senate, Palacios specialized in exposing the conditions of the poorest of the...

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1. A Cure for Backwardness? : The Rationale for Malaria Control

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pp. 17-48

At the end of the nineteenth century, there were, in a sense, two Argentinas. 1 in the thirty years or so since the end of a protracted cycle of political strife, Argentina had experienced a demographic and economic explosion. Primarily through the export of agricultural products, such as beef,...

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2. Launching the Campaign

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pp. 49-74

In 1900, malaria “invaded” the city of Santiago del Estero. Even in a region accustomed to epidemics, the virulence of this outbreak was alarming. Although only some 150 kilometers southeast of Tucumán’s capital, the city had until that time been considered beyond malaria’s endemic zone.1...

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3. Foreign, National, and Local Influences on Malaria Control

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pp. 75-106

In 1923, hygienists from across Argentina convened at the national sanitary Conference in Buenos Aires. Contemplating nothing less than a complete overhaul of national public health administration, the delegates expounded on a multitude of sanitary problems and the grave threat they posed for the...

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4. “Think like a Mosquito”: Turning the Tide Against Malaria

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pp. 107-140

By the early 1930s, four decades had passed since Eliseo Cantón’s foundational treatise on the medical geography of malaria in northwestern Argentina, and twenty years since the initiation of the national department of hygiene’s malaria campaign.1 Despite some successes here and there, malaria...

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5. “God Bless General Perón”: the Politics and Technologies of Malaria Eradication

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pp. 141-166

With these words, Carlos Alvarado, the director of Argentina’s malaria eradication program, captured the heady enthusiasm of malaria fighters in the postwar era.1 The chemical insecticide DDT, which had become widely available after the end of World War II, provided a new and qualitatively different...

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Conclusion: Malaria, Geography, and Lessons for Today

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pp. 167-173

In a reversal of the usual formula, malaria is forgotten but not gone in Argentina. “Eradication” is something of a misnomer; the disease was never completely eradicated from the country, with a few dozen to a few hundred cases every year in the northern borderlands. While the malaria campaign...

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pp. 174-180

It is seven o’clock on a November morning in 2002. Today I travel with one of the Malaria Service’s brigades.1 We gather at the agency’s base in the city of Orán, just fifty kilometers from the international bridge that joins Argentina and Bolivia. The Orán station is one of only two active bases for...


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pp. 181-240


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pp. 241-244

Note on Sources

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pp. 245-248


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pp. 249-272


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pp. 273-bc

E-ISBN-13: 9780817385958
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817317607

Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1