Normal/modern: Reconstructive surgery in a Mexican public hospital

Samuel Taylor-Alexander

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2 Citations (Scopus)


A growing corpus of anthropological scholarship demonstrates how science and medicine in Mexico are imbued by national concerns with modernization. Drawing on ethnographic research in a public hospital located in the south of Mexico City, I unpack one manifestation of this dynamic, which is the conjugation of the normal and the modern in Mexican reconstructive surgery. The aspiration toward normality underlies everyday clinic practices and relationships in this field, including why parents want surgery for their children and how doctors see their patients and their responsibilities toward them. It is also central to the professional ethic of reconstructive surgeons. I argue that the realities of health care provision in Mexico coalesced with this ethic to produce reconstructive surgeons as political subjects. They aimed to modernize craniofacial surgery in Mexico and so make the bodies of craniofacial patients normal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-628
Number of pages14
JournalMedical Anthropology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • clinical audit
  • medical campaigns
  • Mexico
  • modernity
  • normality
  • reconstructive surgery

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