Conjuring the State

Public Health Encounters in Highland Ecuador, 1908-1945

This fascinating book offers a unique insight into the development of Ecuadorian public health services. Conjuring the State could be used as a key text in a public health program, while at the same time appealing to those with an interest in the history of technology within and beyond Latin America.
Technology and Culture
Winner, 2024 Best Book Prize, LASA Ecuadorian Studies Section

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The Ecuadorian Public Health Service was founded in 1908 in response to the arrival of bubonic plague to the country. A. Kim Clark uses this as a point of departure to explore questions of social history and public health by tracing how the service extended the reach of its broader programs across the national landscape and into domestic spaces. Delving into health conditions in the country—especially in the highlands—and efforts to combat disease, she shows how citizens’ encounters with public health officials helped make abstract ideas of state government tangible. By using public health as a window to understand social relations in a country deeply divided by region, class, and ethnicity, Conjuring the State examines the cultural, social, and political effects of the everyday practices of public health officials.

about the author

A. Kim Clark

A. Kim Clark is professor of anthropology at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. She is the author of The Redemptive Work: Railway and Nation in Ecuador, 1895–1930 and Gender, State and Medicine in Highland Ecuador: Modernizing Women, Modernizing the State and coeditor, with Marc Becker, of Highland Indians and the State in Modern Ecuador.

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A. Kim Clark