The Science of Family Planning. Mexico’s “Demographic Explosion,” Contraceptive Technologies, and the Power of Expert Knowledge


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This project studies the joint efforts of Mexican doctors, chemists, and demographers who tried to curb Mexico’s “demographic explosion” in the mid-20th century. These experts formed alliances with international foundations and pharmaceutical companies to produce knowledge about the consequences of population growth and develop contraceptives in Mexico between 1950-1970, a period in which the government maintained a pronatalist and antiimperialist stance. This research demonstrates that such Mexican experts dodged the opposition of the government and the Catholic Church to family planning, and they became key actors in testing the birth control pill with local women, a forgotten episode in the history of contraceptive technologies.