Mexican Veterinarians in an Industrialising Countryside, c.1950-1982

This paper examines the legacy of a massive US-Mexico campaign against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in 1947-1954. The FMD crisis convinced the Mexican government to boost veterinary education and create a new veterinary infrastructure to prevent disease and modernize animal husbandry. Drawing on government records, memoirs, the press and petitions, the paper examines veterinarians’ roles as agents of state-backed development in the countryside during a period of dramatic rural transformations. It focuses on three telling cases: subsequent campaigns against livestock and poultry disease, and a major but largely forgotten 1960s effort to promote animal husbandry among poor peasant communities (ganaderia ejidal). While veterinarians achieved notable successes against disease, in the obstacles they faced (popular suspicion, cultural divisions, inconsistent government policy), and in their frequent corruption and general blindness to larger structural inequalities and ecological problems, they serve as microcosm of the achievements and flaws of Mexico’s developmentalist state.

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