In Search of the "Philanthropic Plum:" Diabetes Research, Hookworm Interventions, and Comparative Philanthropy in Historical Perspective

Jan 01, 2010 | by
  • Description

My dissertation research in Belize this year is an ethnographic project tracing the trajectory of two nutritionally-related diseases in this Central American country, one infectious (parasitic infection) and the other non-communicable (diabetes mellitus). To contextualize the contemporary data I have collected about how people negotiate available care systems today, I visited the Rockefeller Archive Center in October of 2009 to deepen my understanding of the historical fields in which these two diseases are embedded with respect to then-British Honduras. I was especially interested in learning more about how past Rockefeller philanthropic interventions for worm diseases and diabetes mellitus relate to modern international health initiatives for these same health issues: What might any parallels reveal about the broader political meanings of these programs over time, and what can any shifts in their recurring tropes suggest about the novel structures of public-private philanthropy today?