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Making Experts, Sustaining Families: The Rockefeller Foundation’s Mexican Fellowships as a Social Program for the Middle ClassNovember 2, 2023
Drawing from a sample of forty fellows sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation's Mexican Agricultural Program, with case studies coming from dossiers on ninety-one individuals in several different fellowship programs, this report looks at the families left behind and brought along by the Mexican experts whose training was financed by the Rockefeller Foundation (RF). Alongside uncovering geopolitical subtexts and intellectual legacies left by US philanthropic foundations, historians can also scrutinize what is arguably the most tangible impact made by the RF in countries like Mexico: namely, the consequences of its educational investment in young people's material and social worlds. This report contends that the RF's philanthropic efforts to form highly-skilled human capital for the Global South also functioned as a kind of family welfare program for up-and-coming Mexican experts. RF officers closely scrutinized not just their fellows but their wives and children, and the RF expended considerable resources on both financing whole families and in monitoring their collective well-being. However, there are also important differences in terms of the support available for men and women due to RF officers' beliefs about the impossibility of married women being professional experts.
Designing Agricultural Programs in Mexico and India: Challenges, Successes, and Missed OpportunitiesJanuary 7, 2022
While several scholars have examined the foundation and agricultural innovation of the initial 1943 Office of Special Studies (OSS or OEE, the abbreviation in Spanish), this research focuses on, first, the impact of this knowledge on domestic science and rural Mexican development, and, second, the production of agricultural science techniques designed for domestic experimental stations yet implemented beyond Mexico. Consequently, this research examines how these Mexico-based ideas, distinct practices and scientific knowledge looked on the ground in the 1960s when knowledge practices —and seeds—developed in Mexico, arrived in India. In addition to research at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), as well as in national and state archives in Mexico and India, oral histories of farmers and scientists were conducted. This research report briefly examines the sunsetting of the OEE and its fusion into a new, wholly Mexican institute (INIA) which would become vital for later international networks. Simultaneously, the Rockefeller Foundation was expanding its presence in rural India.
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