Julia Alvarez’ novel Saving the World (2006) is a comment on the politics of Global Health. Alvarez reconstructs the tale of Isabel Sendales y Gomez, the lone female participant in the early 19th century’s Spanish Royal Expedition to eradicate smallpox around the world, mainly in the Spanish colonies. The historical narrative is paralleled by the tale of Alma Rodríguez, a 21st Century Dominican American author who is faced with a similar situation, aiding in an idealistic project to eradicate AIDS in the Dominican Republic. Alvarez’ work throws into sharp relief what happens when the philanthropic ideals of healing the world clashes with local politics and foreign policies. It also questions the ethical issues behind the use of third world volunteers in the testing of medicines manufactured by the first world pharmaceutical companies.

Bio Note

Amrita Das is an Assistant Professor of Spanish at the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She specializes in US Latino literature and culture. She focuses on writings of Latina authors of the Caribbean origin. Her other research and teaching interests are Contemporary Latin American literature.

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