Scientific Representations at the UPR School of Tropical Medicine. I: Images of Science

Raúl Mayo-Santana


The essay examines the scientific representations that prevailed at the University of Puerto Rico School of Tropical Medicine (STM) under the auspices of Columbia University (1926-1949). This article on the STM’s scientific endeavors is the first in a historical serial collection about the images and evolution of sciences at the institution. It reviews faculty’s principal investigations (by disciplines and research problems), development of research programs, and concomitant scientific productivity and research outcomes. The essay focuses on the emerged scientific representations and the nature of sciences, and has been divided into four sections: 1) images of science, 2) the evolution of science in the first two eras (1926-40), 3) the third and last era unfolding (1941-49), and 4) special studies. This first paper focuses on the scientific images that emerged from an examination of communities’ interactions, networks, and academic and foundational documents. The scientific representations have been brought about through the analyses of different sources: academic and research reports, and publications in external and local venues. The most significant findings of this representational inquiry are: the idea of an academic tropical center in the tropics had a shared colonial-metropolis image; the community of common, but unequal, scientific citizens became an integrated epistemological community; interdisciplinary cooperation was the School’s research dictum; and an image of a mature science and school of tropical medicine emerged. The richness and varieties of the practices and outcomes of science at the STM are analytically viewed as research schemas, exemplars of knowledge (paradigms), and epistemological fields (epistemes).


Science history; Scientific journals; Public health history

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