Ciencia y Sociedad

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Dr.Fernando Cámara Barbachano, Leading Social Scientist, Passed Away...

Born in Mérida, Yucatán on april 17, 1919, Dr. Cámara passed away on December 30, 2007. We were both alumni of the same "cardenista" Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas del Instituto Politécnico Nacional, myself a Chemist-Bacteriologist, he, an Anthropologist educated both under a socialistic perspective prevailing then in México.
I met him personally at the University of California in Los Angeles in the autum of 1965. I was spending a postdoc stay at the Department of Bacteriology (under Stephen Zamenhoff, co-discoverer of the A/T G/C proportionality of DNA with Erwin Chargaff) of the School of Medicine there, when one day, upon reviewing the campus program of interdisciplinary activities, I noticed that a Dr. Cámara, from my country and Alma mater, would be lecturing on México´s society. I decided to attend and try to open the "two cultures" barrier. Altough spending my life in the world of experimental activities in the lab, my interests had extended to social problems in México; those were the days of world universities unrest, Vietnam war protests, Chemical Biological Warfare arms development alarm -the idea of "bioterrorism" had not been invented yet- and upsurge, in the state of Chihuahua, México, of a guerrilla group at Madera...I´ve never repented jumping science sides, trans-interdisciplinarity I call it.
With his outright language, capacity for synthesis and nationalistic perspective (demodé today, they say, but it will come back... you´ll see) Fernando´s lecture impressed me tremendously. His keen analysis spoke of "several" Mexicos -nine to be precise- with divergent and frequently opposing interests, coexisting in a single "Mexican Republic", next to a military empire disguised as a paradigmatic democracy. His outlook could not harbour then optimistic scenarios as we indeed witness today in my nation; a truly rich and diverse land torn apart by multinational globalized greed, USA interests and junk culture and internal corruption in various ways... Fernando was then something of a prophet.
Good humoured, sharp and with an enormous experience, his representation of mexican social sciences will be largely missed.


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