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Race, Progress and National Identity

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Chapter Summary

This chapter traces the discursive shift in anemia as a political cause and symbol of a diseased body politic to one of a disease curable through medical treatment. It focuses on the changing relationship between land and labor in relation to agricultural production to demonstrate how the meanings of race, progress, and national identity in late-nineteenth century Puerto Rico were redefined through the development of tropical medicine in the early-twentieth century. This shift implied a new role for scientific medicine and professional elites within the U.S. colonial administration. Scholars have recently paid close attention to the medical/hygienic discourse in vogue in late-nineteenth century Puerto Rico. Although the scholarship on the medical/hygienic discourse underscores the relationship of hygiene and race, it underemphasizes the relationship between race and labor on the one hand, and tropical environments and land on the other.

Keywords: colonial administration; medical/hygienic discourse; national identity



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