Emily Yates-Doerr

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Oregon State U.

Grant number

Gr. 9885

Approve Date

October 9, 2019

Project Title

Yates-Doerr, Emily (Oregon State U.) "Doing Good Science: When Fetal Development is Global Development in Guatemala— and Beyond"

For the record number of Guatemalan families seeking asylum in Mexico and the United States, life in Guatemala is no longer viable. This book traces an untold story of Guatemalan migration, documenting the longstanding failure of maternal nutrition interventions in Guatemala to meaningfully improve women’s lives. The manuscript begins during the U.S. government’s ‘War on Poverty’ in the 1960s, when a group of American scientists initiated a feeding trial in Guatemala that would eventually spark a global movement to improve human capital. By the end of the book, Guatemalan politicians running a nationwide nutrient supplement program are imprisoned for corruption, parents cannot feed their children, and one in five people in the highland community where I carried out fieldwork lives in the United States. After a half-century of intensive maternal nutrition intervention, Guatemala still has one of the highest rates of chronic hunger in the world. The book explains why this is so, linking maternal nutrition interventions to ongoing violence against Indigenous women. Drawing from twenty years of anthropological engagement in Guatemala and three years of focused ethnography with nutrition policymakers and families living through their policies, the book shows what happens when fetal development is equated to global development. Its discussion of the tragic outcomes of ‘Doing Good Science’ has relevance for health and development interventions far beyond Guatemala.