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I am a Ph.D. candidate at the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health, Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University. My dissertation examines nutrition sciences and food policies in mid-20th century Puerto Rico.
My doctoral dissertation investigates the scientific representations, policy articulations, and political usages of nutrition ideas in Puerto Rico from the late 1920s to the 1960s. To do this, it examines the relationship between nutrition sciences, agricultural patterns, and population control agendas in a context of rapid public health and socioeconomic changes. It analyzes the scientific and political construction of malnutrition during this period and how the economic development and modernization model of the late 1940s influenced public health approaches to it. The dissertation focuses on the multiple scientific and social dynamics that shaped how nutrition knowledge was conceived, translated, and generalized in health policy and political debates by researchers, professionals, bureaucrats, politicians, and citizens. By applying history of medicine perspectives and social studies of science frameworks to the case study of mid-twentieth century Puerto Rico, this dissertation probes how nutrition scientific knowledge and the processes of state formation were reciprocally informed and stabilized. To do this, it draws upon archival evidence from government, philanthropic, and academic institutions at local, federal, and international settings paying particular attention to how socio-historical processes determine the existence of these sources and their availability for the researcher.
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