Rockefeller Archive Center

Rockefeller Archive Center Research Reports are created by recipients of research travel stipends and by many others who have conducted research at the RAC. The reports demonstrate the breadth of the RAC's archival holdings, particularly in the study of philanthropy and its effects. Read more about the history of philanthropy at Also, see the RAC Bibliography of Scholarship, a comprehensive online database of publications citing RAC archival collections.
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Academic and Architectural Modernization for Development: Financial and Technical Assistance to the University of Concepción, Chile, 1956–1968

March 16, 2023

The following research is part of my ongoing dissertation project, which examines the planning, design, and construction of university campuses vis-à-vis the intensification of mining and oil extraction in South America between 1945 and 1975. In this report, I offer a brief overview of the technical and financial assistance that the Ford Foundation (FF), the Rockefeller Foundation (RF), and the UN Special Fund (UNSF) gave to one of my case studies, the Universidad de Concepción (UdeC), located in mineral-rich Chile. Multiple holdings at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) reveal that these organizations provided significant aid to the UdeC between 1956 and 1968—a critical period during which the technical and financial assistance programs of the US became entangled with a national developmentalist agenda that tied scientific and engineering education to economic development. The RAC holdings I explore are extremely useful in understanding the geopolitical and economic context that shaped these aid programs, the UdeC's modernization efforts, and the agendas of the multiple actors involved in this process. The textual and visual documents I analyze also underscore the critical role that modern architecture played in all of this as an enabler of the academic reform and the economic transformation of the region, and as a persuasive signifier of "development."

Academic Research and Education; Ford Foundation; Rockefeller Foundation

"Law and Development" in Latin America, 1965-1979

October 28, 2019

In the context of the "Decade of Development," and as part of the non-military strategies of containment of communism, different public and private US. institutions turned their attention to projects of technical assistance in Asia, Africa, and Latin America that sought to modernize the legal systems of the countries of the Third World. In the Inter-American context, several initiatives were promoted under the label "Law and Development" (LD). Financed mostly by the Ford Foundation and USAID, they were conceived and implemented in the 1960s and the 1970s by those institutions, in cooperation with US law schools (Harvard, Stanford, Wisconsin, and Yale, among others) and local universities in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Peru. The common purpose of these programs was the transformation of the national legal systems following the US model. The effort centered on removing obstacles to development attributed to obsolete legal structures and a conception of the role of the law and lawyers incompatible with the challenges of modernization.

Academic Research and Education; Ford Foundation; Law

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.

Public Health; Rockefeller Foundation

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.

Exploring Twentieth-Century Politics of Health and Rights through the Biographical Lens: The Life of Chilean Medical Doctor Benjamin Viel Vicuña

January 1, 2013

In much of the western world, the trajectory of health as a right was linked to fundamental negotiations over the "social contract" between state leaders and civil society. In Latin America, most decisive debates over states' responsibilities for public health, and health as a citizenship right, took shape in the twentieth century. Governments began to recognize their role in designing and administering health programs and negotiated their responsibilities and duties. Since the first decades of the past century, the development of health systems at the nation-state level was also influenced by powerful international agencies that mediated new "social contracts" in modernizing nations. Historians have portrayed philanthropic "missionaries of science," like the Rockefeller Foundation (RF), for example, that contributed to the suppression of health threats such as yellow fever and malaria.

The Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship Program in Chile (1938-1970)

January 1, 2013

The Rockefeller Foundation (RF) Fellowship Program is a relevant phenomenon through which the role of this philanthropic institution in the structuring of the Chilean academic-scientific field can be scrutinized. The analysis of this academic mobility program presents an insight into the academic dependence in the relationships between donors and recipients. In the "Research Program on Academic Dependence in Latin America" (PIDAAL), we define dependence as a complex and dynamic process generated by the dominant academic centers, but critically received by the peripheral academies.

Global Man Meets Local Women: Examining Public Health, Fertility Regulation, and Gender Equity in Chile

January 1, 2008

In the 1960s, a new educational film, Family Planning/Planificación Familiar, made its debut in Chile and throughout Latin America. The animated movie, produced by Walt Disney in English and Spanish, introduced its viewers to a cartoon husband, claiming to represent the "Common Man," and to Donald Duck, the narrator, who led the audience from one theme to the next. After describing the dangers of overpopulation and underdevelopment, the Duck concluded that family planning, which would lead to smaller families and to population decline, was the only way to ward off poverty. When "Common Man's" cartoon wife popped up intermittently, she had doubts, though she was too shy and embarrassed to speak. The wife only managed to voice her doubts about family planning by whispering into her husband's ear while he articulated her questions to the audience. The narrative concluded with an interpretation meant to assure the concerned woman that family planning was not only socially acceptable, but was indeed indispensable to the healthy future of a woman's family, her community, and humankind as a whole.

Gender, Modernity and Technology: Chile During Four Different Political Regimes, 1964-2000

January 1, 2003

I conducted research for my project, "Gender, Modernity, and Technology: Chile during Four Different Political Regimes, 1964-2000," at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) for three weeks in June 2003. This project examines how four very different Chilean governments, ranging from the socialist government of Salvador Allende to the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, understood and employed ideas about modernity, gender, and technology. My research at the RAC focused on the 1960s, the period during which Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei was president. I examined records in four different RAC collections: the Population Council records, the Rockefeller Foundation Archives, the records of IBEC, and the papers of John D. Rockefeller 3rd.

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