Milk Makes State: The Extension and Implementation of Chile’s State Milk Programs, 1901-1971

Jael Goldsmith Weil


Since the early 20th century, Chile has responded to high indices of infant mortality and malnutrition with programs that distribute milk to families in exchange for their maintenance of a preventative healthcare program. This article outlines the background and extent of these efforts, tracking their institutionalization from charitable initiatives to a universal right as of 1954. During the government of Eduardo Frei Montalva (1964-1970) in the context of a progressive communitarian health project, local clinic workers would go door-to-door recruiting mothers to become beneficiaries. For many women, neither formal workers nor habitual voters, these encounters were their first with the state. The article relies on site-intensive research and in-depth interviews with experts, service providers and families to trace how state expansion was experienced at the local level.

Palabras clave

Chile; twentieth century; Public Health Expansion; National Milk Program; Infant-mother Health Care; Promoción Popular; Citizen-state Interactions

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