Making Experts, Sustaining Families: The Rockefeller Foundation’s Mexican Fellowships as a Social Program for the Middle Class

Nov 02, 2023 | by
  • Description

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.