Andes Research

Climate and Health


The city of Huaraz lies in the valley of the Andes Mountains.

Despite the way global warming has emphasized temperature and atmospheric conditions, climate is actually a much more comprehensive concept that has meant different things to different people over millennia. 

A century ago, physicians and tuberculosis patients began to see some climates as beneficial to their health.  They sought out certain high-elevation and coastal climates because they believed the weather would help cure their diseases.  Health resorts sprung up in places from the Swiss Alps and US Rocky Mountains to the Mediterranean coast.  Similar resorts emerged in Latin America and the Caribbean, though scholars have yet to examine them.

Carey has been studying the historical evolution of these cultural, medical, and scientific conceptions of climate in the Caribbean and South America.  He recently published an article about the transformation of European and US views of the Caribbean climate, noting how the once deadly seeming climate had become relaxing and salubrious by the early twentieth century.

He also has a book project underway on the history of health resorts in Jauja (Peru), San José de Maipo (Chile), and Córdoba (Argentina), where tuberculosis patients sought out healthful climates to cure their illnesses.  This comparative study merges the history of medicine, medical geography, and climate history.  The transnational approach offers insights into how political economy, social-racial relations, and cultural conceptions of landscape shaped science and medicine.

Related Publications

Mark Carey, "Climate, Medicine, and Peruvian Health Resorts," Science, Technology, and Human Values (2014): doi: 10.1177/0162243914524280.

Carey, Mark. "Inventing Caribbean Climates: How Science, Medicine, and Tourism Changed Tropical Weather from Deadly to Healthy," Osiris 26, no. 1 (2011): 129-141.