Adam Warren

  • Associate Professor
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies
  • Howard & Frances Keller Endowed Professor

Ph.D. University of California, San Diego, 2004

Fields: Latin America
Phone: 206-543-1197
Office: SMI 218C | Office Hours: Th 1:00-3:00

I am a historian of Latin America and a specialist in Peru and the Andes. My research focuses on the history of medicine and the history of scientific experimentation in both the late colonial period and the national period. I am particularly interested in how medicine and science have been used to explain social inequalities and frame early modern and modern projects of population reform and “improvement” in the Andes. I explore these topics in my first book as well as in numerous articles on medical practices and beliefs in the Andean Region.

Published in 2010, my first book, Medicine and Politics in Colonial Peru: Population Growth and the Bourbon Reforms (University of Pittsburgh Press) examines the introduction of medical reforms as an instrument of colonial power designed to increase population size and labor productivity in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Peru. I show that by appropriating and critiquing the political rhetoric of the Spanish Crown, local doctors and officials in Lima developed a medical reform movement that they self-consciously claimed as their own, but that also engaged the broader goals of the state and sought to reverse a perceived “population crisis.” In part to position themselves as patriotic colonial subjects (at a time when their loyalty was doubted), creole (American-born Spanish) physicians, in particular, developed and introduced a variety of measures focused on preventing disease transmission, rehabilitating the weak, and curing the sick. By examining these efforts case by case, I show that such physicians' work was rooted not only in debates with fellow practitioners and trans-Atlantic correspondence with the Crown, but also in local tensions of elite and popular political culture and religiosity. My analysis thus demonstrates the degree to which colonial subjects of all types engaged the language of reform to debate the refashioning of society.

Since publishing Medicine and Politics in Colonial Peru, my work has shifted to focus on medicine and science in Peru in the national period. Presently, I am working on the history of eugenics and scientific racism as carried out in experiments and research on indigenous peoples, especially highlanders, in twentieth-century Peru. In this work I examine the complex relationship between scientific "experts" and indigenista (pro-indigenous) intellectuals and politicians, who together crafted and debated racialized understandings of the indigenous body. By examining a variety of scientific and social scientific disciplines including psychiatry, physiology, physical anthropology, and archeology, my work traces how indigenistas drew on science (and scientific authority) not just to depict indigenous peoples as racially different, but also to argue that their communities required drastic intervention through modernization projects and the active transformation of their cultures.

In recent years, my graduate courses have focused on Latin American historiography and the fields of comparative colonialisms and comparative ethnicity and nationalism. I have taught undergraduate lecture courses on colonial Latin American history, the history of Mexico, and the history of Peru and the Andean Region. I have also led undergraduate methodology and historiography seminars on the Aztecs, the Incas, and the history of medicine in the colonial world. In Winter Quarter 2014 I will teach for the first time a new undergraduate lecture course entitled "Before Global Health: The Histories of Public Health and International Health in the Global South."

I am an active member of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program in the Jackson School of International Studies. I also serve on the Global Health Minor Advisory Committee and participate in the Program for Education and Research in Latin America, which is housed in the Health Sciences. Beyond the University of Washington, I am a member of the Organizing Collective of the Tepoztlán Institute for Transnational History of the Americas, an all-volunteer organization that plans a one-week interdisciplinary conference each year in central Mexico for approximately 80 Latin American and North American faculty, graduate students, independent scholars, and activists.

I currently (2013-14) serve as President of the Board of Trustees and Board of Directors of the University Book Store.


“From Natural History to Popular Remedy: Animals and their Medicinal Applications among the Kallawaya in Colonial Peru.” In Centering Animals: Writing Animals into Latin American History, eds. Martha Few and Zeb Tortorici. Duke University Press, 2013, 43 manuscript pages.

“Medicine and the Dead in Lima: Conflicts over Burial Reform and the Meaning of Catholic Piety, 1808-1850.” In Death and Dying in Colonial Latin America, eds. Martina Will de Chaparro and Miruna Achim, University of Arizona Press, 2011.

Medicine and Politics in Colonial Peru: Population Growth and the Bourbon Reforms (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010).

Recetarios: sus autores y lectores en el Perú colonial.” Histórica 33, no. 1 (2009), pp. 11-41.

“An Operation for Evangelization: Friar Francisco González Laguna, the Cesarean Section, and Fetal Baptism in Late Colonial Peru.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 83, no. 4 (Winter 2009), pp. 647-675.

“La Medicina y los muertos en Lima: Conflictos sobre la reforma de los entierros y el significado de la piedad católica, 1808-1850.” In El rastro de la salud en el Perú, eds. Marcos Cueto, Jorge Lossio, and Carol Pasco. Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos and Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, 2009, pp. 45-89.

“Viviendas miasmáticas y enfermedades en la Lima Borbónica: Creencias populares y debates médicos sobre espacios domésticos, medio ambiente, y epidemias.” In Perfiles habitacionales y condiciones ambientales: Historia urbana de Latinoamérica, siglos XVII-XX, ed. Rosalva Loreto. Puebla and Mexico City: Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología de México—CONACYT, Deutsches Museum, and Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades de la Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, 2007, pp. 291-312.

“Pastoral Zeal and ‘Treacherous’ Mothers: Ecclesiastical Debates about Cesarean Sections, Abortion, and Infanticide in Andean Peru, 1780-1810.” In Women, Ethnicity, and Medical Authority: Historical Perspectives on Reproductive Health in Latin America, eds. Tamera Marko and Adam Warren. La Jolla: Working Papers Series, Paper 21, Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies, UC San Diego, 2004, pp. 5-26. 

“Piety and Danger: Popular Ritual, Epidemics, and Medical Reforms in Lima, Peru, 1750-1860.” Doctoral Dissertation, 2004.

“Piedad barroca, epidemias, y las reformas funerarias y de entierro en las iglesias limeñas, 1808--1850.” Horizontes 23, no. 1 (Jan-Dec 2003), pp. 7-14.