In Fevered Measures, John Mckiernan-Gonzalez examines public health campaigns along the Texas-Mexico border between 1848 and 1942 and reveals the changing medical and political frameworks U.S. health authorities used when facing the threat of epidemic disease. The medical borders created by these officials changed with each contagion and sometimes varied from the existing national borders. Federal officers sought to distinguish Mexican citizens from U.S. citizens, a process troubled by the deeply interconnected nature of border communities. Mckiernan-Gonzalez uncovers forgotten or igred cases in which Mexicans, Mexican Americans, African Americans, and other groups were subject to-and sometimes agents of-quarantines, inspections, detentions, and forced-treatment regimens. These cases illustrate the ways that medical encounters shaped border identities before and after the Mexican Revolution. Mckiernan-Gonzalez also maintains that the threat of disease provided a venue to destabilize identity at the border, enacted processes of racialization, and re-legitimized the power of U.S. policymakers. He demonstrates how this complex history continues to shape and frame contemporary perceptions of the Lati body today.
John Mckiernan-Gonzalez is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Texas, Austin.