“Within the Common People's Grasp”: Colombian Medical Publications and their Authors, 1821-1851

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This thesis examines how university-educated physicians in Bogotá, Colombia made use of the printing press between 1821 and 1851, the first three decades after the country’s political independence from Spain. The first years of republican existence for the country brought challenges for the governing elite, which included public health issues such as disease epidemics and endemic conditions. This research examines the medical publications that were printed in the city starting in 1821 focusing on standalone publications such as books, booklets, and single-page proclamations. By analyzing the production of such publications, it aims at identifying the motivations and expectations of the physicians who wrote them. Furthermore, it describes how they understood the use of printed material in their goals as a group of professionals. This thesis demonstrates that physicians created a substantial corpus of medical publications and produced knowledge in a local setting using the printing press. In addition, university doctors expected to extend their practice and values down the social scale by opening new spaces to emphasize their importance to society at large. In order to reach the lower classes, medical authors resorted to a simpler writing style and relied on the help of cultural intermediaries, such as the clergy. Moreover, early nineteenth century physicians perpetuated previous colonial discourses around class and race to stake out their position in post-colonial settings. As a result, while acting as a conservative faction that did not escape the Spanish tradition, university-trained doctors were unable to curtail the influence of charlatans and empiric healers.
History, History--Latin American, History of Science, Public Health
Velez Mendoza, R. A. (2017). “Within the Common People's Grasp”: Colombian Medical Publications and their Authors, 1821-1851 (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca. doi:10.11575/PRISM/28719