From Popular Medicine to Medical Populism represents the maturation of a new narrative of the history of medicine in Latin America. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, a “progressive” analysis underpinned most volumes on the history of medicine, an account of fundamental advances begot by the introduction of scientific medicine into the region. This historiography tended to focus upon “firsts” (the first microscope, type of surgery, etc.), achievements by leading physicians, the professionalization of the field, and the construction of institutional edifices that helped to “modernize” the region. Anthropologists, sociologists, postmodernists, and others have critiqued this narrative, seeking to recuperate indigenous and African medical practices, “popular” beliefs, women, and power relations generally absent from the progressive tradition. This critical approach, which has dominated the literature over the past generation, has tended to construct a “bipolar field of vision” characterized by attention to contestations and popular practices. Palmer seeks to correct...

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