In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Book Reviews economic life cannot but yield important conclusions about the roles that borders have played in regional and global histories. Alan L. Karras University of California, Berkeley ENEMY IN THE BLOOD: MALARIA, ENVIRONMENT, AND DEVELOPMENT IN ARGENTINA. By Eric D. Carter. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2012, p. 238. Eric D. Carter’s engaging study of malaria control efforts in the impoverished northwest of Argentina is one of a recent wave of books on the nation’s interior. The interior has been long dwarfed by studies of Buenos Aires that claim to be about Argentina (full disclosure: this reviewer is guilty as charged), but now we are enjoying some fine-tuned and satisfying histories of the nation beyond the port capital. Carter, a historical geographer, focuses on events and outcomes in Salta, Jujuy, Tucumán, and Catamarca, where malaria was endemic and destructive. The region was crucial to the economic growth of the nation as a sugar producing area, and yet most of its people lived in widespread poverty and misery. Malaria was also, as Carter documents, central to ideas of the nation as modern. In fact, the book argues that malaria control was not just concerned with limiting the disease, but was also “driven by a larger project of constructing a modern identity for Argentina. Insofar as development meant building a more productive, rational, orderly, hygienic, and healthy society, the persistence of a ‘tropical’ disease such as malaria prevented Argentina from joining the ranks of modern nations.” (3) To get at the social, medical, and political aspects of malaria control, Carter sets up an analytical framework shaped by an impressive array of interdisciplinary tools. From geography and ecology, he brings us knowledge of the environment and the insect vector of the disease. From the history of medicine, he applies insights that describe the realities and experiences of the disease as well as the public health policies aimed at its eradication. From social and political history, Carter brings a deeper sense of the relevance of malaria control in this specific setting. Enemy in the Blood focuses mainly on the middle decades of the twentieth century, when anti-malaria campaigns were most intense. But first, in two chapters, Carter describes in detail the late nineteenth and early twentieth century backdrop, focusing on the rise of state public health apparatuses and the early scientific research on malaria. Chapter three, on the 1920s, examines the interaction between local Argentine scientists and the more prominent, but sometimes grossly misguided, leaders in the field from Europe and the U.S. He reveals tensions not just internationally but between local and national figures as officials jockeyed for power and results. Chapter four moves to the 1930s, when a new model emerged based on the work of a local public health doctor, Carlos Alberto 109 The Latin Americanist, September 2012 Alvarado, and revitalized the field. Alvarado’s success resulted not only from his creative incorporation of ecological factors, but he “judged the quality of control work by its success in practice, rather than adhering rigidly to preconceived doctrine.” (139) Carter explains how Alvarado, who eventually achieved international stature, “effectively depoliticized malaria control by severing its connection, as much as possible, to larger projects of social reform.” (139) Chapter five focuses on the Perón years, which were accompanied by a “new public health ideology.” (144) Building on the foundation of preceding decades’ knowledge, adding some crucial new technologies such as DDT and the use of motor vehicles, and finally, welcoming back international agencies such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the government’s public health efforts in this period were newly energized. Yet, as Carter significantly concludes, malaria control had limited effect on the overall living conditions of most Argentines in this poverty-stricken region. Eliminating malaria alone would not result in the “sweeping social transformation its proponents had once predicted.” (166) Thus, while the technological, focused campaigns were an effective way to eradicate malaria, they should not be confused with a holistic, social justice approach that remained (and still remains in many areas) frustratingly out of reach. Enemy in the Blood is exhaustively researched, well written, and provides detail about a compellingly important issue for Argentina as...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 109-110
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.