Culture in the Clinic

Miami and the Making of Modern Medicine

By Catherine Mas

318 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 15 halftones

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7098-0
    Published: November 2022
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7099-7
    Published: November 2022
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6038-5
    Published: November 2022
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7097-3
    Published: November 2022

Studies in Social Medicine

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After the 1959 Cuban Revolution, hundreds of thousands of Cuban refugees came to Miami. With this influx, the city's health care system was overwhelmed not just by the number of patients but also by the differences in culture. Mainstream medicine was often inaccessible or inadequate to Miami's growing community of Latin American and Caribbean immigrants. Instead, many sought care from alternative, often unlicensed health practitioners. During the 1960s, a recently arrived Cuban feeling ill might have visited a local clĂ­nica, a quasi-legal storefront doctor's office, or a santero, a priest in the Afro-Cuban religion of LukumĂ­ or SanterĂ­a. This exceptionally diverse medical scene would catch the attention of anthropologists who made Miami's multiethnic population into a laboratory for cross-cultural care. By the 1990s, the medical establishment in Miami had matured into a complex and culturally informed health-delivery system, generating models of care that traveled far beyond the city. Some clĂ­nicas had transformed into lucrative HMOs, SanterĂ­a became legally protected by the courts, and medical anthropology played a significant role in the rise of global health. Catherine Mas shows how immigrants reshaped American medicine while the clinic became a crucial site for navigating questions of wellness, citizenship, and culture.

About the Author

Catherine Mas is assistant professor of history at Florida International University.
For more information about Catherine Mas, visit the Author Page.


"An extremely engaging read and should appeal to scholars in medical humanities, history of medicine, medical anthropology, medical geography, and ethnic studies. It is a welcome contribution and will hopefully inspire other researchers to explore the rich cultural history and healing traditions of Miami and other diasporic enclaves in the United States."—H-Sci-Med-Tech

"Centering her analysis on community health leaders and medical anthropologists who examined the cultural exchanges taking place across Miami, Mas reveals a cityscape teeming with different understandings of health, healing, and the right to care. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in alternative models of global health care." —Gabriela Soto Laveaga, professor of the history of science and Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico, Harvard University

"Creatively conceptualized and thoroughly researched, Culture in the Clinic offers a novel approach to an understudied set of questions at the nexus of the history of medicine, sociomedical science, and transnational U.S. history."—Julia E. Rodriguez, University of New Hampshire