Scientific Representations at the UPR School of Tropical Medicine. III: The Evolution of Science, the Last Era (1941-1949)

Raúl Mayo-Santana


The essay examines the scientific representations that unfolded and evolved at the University of Puerto Rico School of Tropical Medicine (STM) under the auspices of Columbia University (1926-1949). It focuses on the emerged scientific representations and on the nature and evolution of sciences at the School, and has been divided into four sections: images of science, evolution during the first two eras (1926-31 and 1932-40), the unfolding last era (1941-49), and special technical studies. This article on the STM’s scientific endeavors is the third in this historical serial collection about the images and evolution of sciences at the institution, and portrays the events and processes of the last scientific era. It analyzes the faculty’s principal investigations, development of research programs, and concomitant scientific productivity and research outcomes. The scientific representations have been brought forth through the analyses of different sources: academic and research reports, and publications in external and local venues. The analysis of the STM’s scientific evolution has been organized in three distinct chronological stages, while also considering other time evolving models (e.g., historical moments). The main themes of the collection are the scientific images and knowledge exemplars: the emergence of a tradition. An analytical framework of research schemas, exemplars of knowledge, and epistemes proved useful and constructive. These studies on the history of science allow for the postulation of an ‘enriched thesis’ on the different kinds of paradigmatic diseases of tropical medicine in Puerto Rico during the 20th Century, and enable further substantiation of the tropical obliviousness thesis.


Tropical medicine history, Science history, Medical discourses

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