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The Right to Live in Health

Medical Politics in Postindependence Havana

By Daniel A. Rodríguez

288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 10 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5973-2
    Published: August 2020
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5972-5
    Published: August 2020
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-5974-9
    Published: July 2020

Envisioning Cuba

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Daniel A. Rodríguez’s history of a newly independent Cuba shaking off the U.S. occupation focuses on the intersection of public health and politics in Havana. While medical policies were often used to further American colonial power, in Cuba, Rodríguez argues, they evolved into important expressions of anticolonial nationalism as Cuba struggled to establish itself as a modern state. A younger generation of Cuban medical reformers, including physicians, patients, and officials, imagined disease as a kind of remnant of colonial rule. These new medical nationalists, as Rodríguez calls them, looked to medical science to guide Cuba toward what they envisioned as a healthy and independent future.

Rodríguez describes how medicine and new public health projects infused republican Cuba’s statecraft, powerfully shaping the lives of Havana’s residents. He underscores how various stakeholders, including women and people of color, demanded robust government investment in quality medical care for all Cubans, a central national value that continues today. On a broader level, Rodríguez proposes that Latin America, at least as much as the United States and Europe, was an engine for the articulation of citizens’ rights, including the right to health care, in the twentieth century.

About the Author

Daniel A. Rodríguez is assistant professor of history at Brown University.
For more information about Daniel A. Rodríguez, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

“Daniel Rodríguez deploys an intersectional analysis, attending to race, class, disease, gender, and geography to capture how medical reforms were deployed to treat the fundamental political, economic, and social tensions fracturing early twentieth-century Cuba.”—Julia Rodriguez, University of New Hampshire