Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



Published in: A Contracorriente, Winter 2012


Diseased Relations is an impressive work succinct in its focus on the topic of public health history in the Mexican state of Yucatán. Adding to a growing body of scholarship on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this book offers a new lens through which to consider the mechanics of state formation. In this turn to the study of disease and public health, McCrea pulls in the unfolding story of science’s understanding of the origin and spread of diseases and reflects upon the dialogue between national officials and state or local officials in the Yucatán. By choosing to focus on specific disease campaigns, McCrea extends the common discussion of state formation and casts it into a light of intimacy and personal level as she explores the ways in which disease prevention touched and changed the lives of individuals. Instead of viewing ‘nation-building’ through abstractions, she adroitly pursues the palpable and deadly topic of disease and efforts to combat epidemics as a clear implementation of the long-arm of the state into the private lives of individuals.