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This report provides an overview of the history of physics in Latin America through the intervention of the Rockefeller Foundation. It is mainly based on reports and correspondence located at the Rockefeller Archive Center, documenting the interaction of Rockefeller Foundation officers with Latin American physicists, providing insight into how these scientists represented themselves. It focuses on the policies of the Rockefeller Foundation behind its support for physics communities and institutions in Latin America from the 1940s to the 1960s. It provides a panoramic – but not exhaustive – view about how these orientations changed according to the group, the topic, and the geopolitical context.
Regional Office for the Rio de la Plata and the Andean Region: Circulation of Ideas and Key Players, Argentina (1941–1949)July 10, 2019
This report examines the activities carried out by the Regional Office of Río de la Plata and Andean Region of the Rockefeller Foundation to upgrade the training of public health professionals and staff from 1941 to 1949. According to the Rockefeller Foundation, special skills and training were essential to address the challenges posed by the eradication of epidemics and pandemics, necessary public works to enhance public health. The regional office was based in Argentina, Chile, Perú, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay.
On June 28th, 1966, the constitutional Argentinian President Arturo Illia was overthrown by a military putsch led by Lt. General Juan Carlos Onganía. The Congress elected in 1963 and all political parties were dissolved. The Rector, the Senate of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), and the Councils of most of the University Schools severely condemned the putsch, with its implied breakdown of all democratic procedures. On July 29th, the Universities were put under the direct control of the military Government and their autonomy was curtailed. That evening the Federal Police invaded the School of Exact and Natural Sciences (Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, FCEN) of UBA, brutally attacking the professors and students who had gathered and taking hundreds into police stations for several days. Similar invasions were perpetrated in the School of Architecture and in the School of Philosophy and Letters (FFyL) of the UBA. The Dean and Vice-Dean of the FCEN and the Dean of the School of Architecture were beaten. This episode, known as the "Night of the Long Sticks" (Noche de los bastones largos, or NBL) has been the object of numerous reports and studies.
Interinstitutional Cooperation in Authoritarian Times: The Ford Foundation and the Development of Autonomous Research Centers in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile (1969-1990)January 1, 2016
During my three-week stay at the Rockefeller Archive Center in September 2015 I made substantial progress on my research on three independent academic centers in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. The main purpose of my research was to document and analyze the financial support these centers received from the Ford Foundation in the 1970s and 1980s. The three centers are the CEDES in Argentina, the CEBRAP in Brazil, and the CIEPLAN in Chile. Thanks to RAC Archivist Lucas Buresch, I was able to access an important set of documents that will allow me to clarify, in forthcoming publications, one of the most interesting episodes in the recent history of Latin American political and social sciences in the context of dictatorial regimes. In that period of severe academic and institutional restrictions (universities intervened, schools shut down, academics fleeing into exile), the Ford Foundation's aid and protection helped to promote collaboration between these Latin American research centers, and was essential to their functioning.
Argentina and the United States had basically no diplomatic relations towards the end of World War II. When Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Nelson A. Rockefeller (NAR) to the State Department to plan the U.S. policy toward Latin America, he disturbed the normalization of bilateral relations. After sending a mission to negotiate with the government of Farrell and Perón, NAR pushed for the reincorporation of Argentina into the Inter-American system at the Chapultepec Conference. Soon after, he promoted the normalization of American-Argentine diplomatic relations and even the acceptance of Argentina at the San Francisco Conference. My research at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) in October and November 2010, allowed me to discover unpublished documents which are very important in understanding the role of NAR in these negotiations, and also to discover his motivations, which differed from those of other senior officials at the Department of State.
Modernity, Development and the Transnationalization of the Social Sciences in Argentina and Brazil (1930-1970)January 1, 2008
During my two-week stay at the Rockefeller Archive Center in August 2006 I made substantial progress on my research for a project titled "Modernity, Development and the Transnationalization of Social Sciences in Latin America: The Cases of Argentina and Brazil (1930-1970)". The purpose of this project is to analyze the origins and evolution of modern social science in two Latin American countries in a comparative perspective, focusing in particular on how the social sciences contributed to shaping a new concept of modernity. A central aspect of the project consists in analyzing the role of American foundations in the development, modernization and "Americanization" of the social sciences in Argentina and Brazil. More specifically, during my research at the RAC, I focused on how modernity was defined; how the foundations set up a network of reliable "native contacts" to provide information about applicants, projects and institutions; the impact of the foundations in the establishment of research agendas; and 1 the interaction between "global" and local research styles and traditions. What follows is a very preliminary report of some of my findings at the RAC.
American organizations and the development of sociology and social research in Argentina. The case of the SSRC and the Rockefeller Foundation (1927-1966)January 1, 2004
One of the most interesting aspects of the history of disciplines is the dissemination of science, including the study of influences on the direction of research through financial help. One can easily see that scientific norms and values spread in one direction - from Europe to America and the rest of the world - during the five centuries since the Renaissance. During the twentieth century, the contribution of American science altered the direction of the propagation of ideas and funds for research. However, this trend is not unilateral, since the internationalization of the scientific debate changed the American social sciences, too (Prewitt, 1980).
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