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 to treat 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 American citizens, a process troubled by the deeply interconnected nature of border communities. Mckiernan-Gonzalez uncovers forgotten or ignored cases where large populations of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, African Americans, and other groups were subjects and agents of forced vaccinations, involuntary inspections, field trials, and region-wide federal quarantines. These cases illustrate the ways medical encounters shaped border identities before 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 United States policymakers.
He demonstrates how this complex history continues to shape and frame contemporary perceptions of the Latino body today.