Friday, 18 November 2016—12:00 noon—WAG 316

Jethro Hernandez Berrones, Southwestern University

“Medicine in Revolution: Mapping Homeopathy into the Landscape of Mexican Medical Science, 1861-1934”

During the last quarter of the 19th century, homeopaths slowly but consistently gained terrain in the Mexican medical landscape. The state support they received in the 1890s in the form of a hospital and the regularization of their training contributed to positioning homeopathy as a medical system that opposed orthodox medical theories, practices, and institutions, in spite of efforts of homeopathic doctors to place themselves within the tradition that orthodox physicians labeled as medical science. The result was a political struggle between two medical groups in their effort to legitimize or ban homeopathic schools and practice during the turbulent years of the Mexican Revolution (1910-40). Understandings of what medical science was by key actors in these confrontations permeated—but did not always reveal themselves in—discussions about medical curricula in private and public medical schools and professional practice.

This chapter analyses the dialogues (and lack thereof) between homeopathic doctors and supporters of mainstream medical sciences—from mid-19th century anatomic pathology and pharmacology to turn-of-the-century bacteriology and physiology. Its main goal is to understand the adoption of contemporary medical scientific approaches to draw the line between what counted as legitimate medical knowledge and practice during the consolidation of the Mexican medical profession before and after the revolution. It traces the critiques from prominent members of the medical profession to homeopathy and homeopathic doctors’ adoption of medical science to criticize and yet still align with it. It locates homeopathic science’s agreements and disagreements with orthodox medical science, following their transformation into a dogma around which medical students and doctors aligned during the 1920s and 30s to advance the interests of their own group. Epistemological considerations about medical knowledge, in turn, framed institutional decisions that shaped the boundaries of the medical profession in Mexico. For this chapter, I use mainly rare publications as well as homeopathic and other medical journals.

Jethro Hernandez Berrones is currently Assistant Professor of History at Southwestern University, in Georgetown, Texas. He holds a PhD in the History of Health Sciences from the University of California at San Francisco, a masters in Philosophy of Science from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and a degree in biology from the same institution. He received the Pressman Award of the American Association for the History of Medicine for an outstanding work in 20th-century history of medicine as demonstrated by the completion of the PhD and a proposal to turn the dissertation into a publishable monograph. He also received the Hans-Walz Prize for studies in the history of homeopathy from the Institute of the History of Medicine of the Robert Bosch Foundation in Stuttgart, Germany. He is currently working on a book project tentatively titled: Revolutionary Doctors: Homeopathy and the Alternative History of the Medical Profession in Mexico.