Ivan Illich was born in Vienna in 1926. He arrived in New York City in 1951 as a newly ordained priest and became a sort of expert in Puerto Rican affairs. In 1956 he moved to Puerto Rico as the vice rector of a Catholic university. The focus of this book is the period from 1961 to 1976 when Illich ran a training center in Cuernavaca, Mexico. At first, Illich was supposed to be training missionaries for service in Latin America, but after running into trouble with the US bishops and the Vatican, he turned his center into a radical think tank known as CIDOC (Centro Intercultural de Documentación) where he produced a series of devastating critiques of Western modernity.
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