Initially focused above all on the cases of Great Britain, the United States and Germany, the historiography of eugenics, starting from the early 90s, has assumed a more open and varied comparative perspective. Nowadays, the general interpretative framework seems therefore extremely fresh and stimulating. First of all, eugenics no longer appears as a homogenous movement, coherent within itself and essentially reducible to the Anglo-Saxon matrix. Instead, it could be described as a “multiform archipelago,” composed of multiple national styles: the Scandinavian countries, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, but also China, India, and Japan are among the nations most recently studied. Secondly, on a theoretical level, next to Mendelism, which was dominant in the British and North American contexts, neo-Lamarckism has been identified as one of the constitutive elements of the eugenic discourse, above all in several nations, such as France, Russia and Brazil. In parallel, “Nordic” eugenics has been coupled with “Latin” eugenics, widespread in Catholic countries such as Italy, France, Spain, Belgium and some Latin American nations. Thirdly, the definition of eugenics as a “pseudo-science” is being progressively substituted by an analysis that is more conscious of the relationships of eugenics to genetics and other scientific disciplines, such as demography, statistics and psychology. Finally, the myth of eugenics as an essentially reactionary field, mostly linked to sexist, racist, anti-Semitic and generally right-wing movements, has been replaced with an historically more mature evaluation, which is more knowledgeable about the fascination exercised by the eugenic thinking also in the left-wing milieu: from the first British feminists to German and Swedish social-democrats; from Spanish anarchists to French communists. In the context of this fertile comparative approach, the Italian case - notwithstanding its crucial importance, also from an international point of view, due to the role of Fascism and of the Catholic Church - has long been neglected, or has been studied in an incomplete manner, as a component of the fascist population policy or State racism. Based on previously unexplored archival documentation, this book offers a first general overview of the history of Italian eugenics, not limited to the decades of Fascist regime, but instead ranging from the beginning of the 1900s to the first half of the 1970s. A revised edition of the book was published in 2011 in English, under the title "Building the New Man. Eugenics, Racial science and Genetics in Twentieth-Century Italy" (Central European University Press Studies in the History of Medicine, New York-Budapest 2011).

Molti, sani e forti. L'eugenetica in Italia

CASSATA, FRANCESCO
2006

Abstract

Initially focused above all on the cases of Great Britain, the United States and Germany, the historiography of eugenics, starting from the early 90s, has assumed a more open and varied comparative perspective. Nowadays, the general interpretative framework seems therefore extremely fresh and stimulating. First of all, eugenics no longer appears as a homogenous movement, coherent within itself and essentially reducible to the Anglo-Saxon matrix. Instead, it could be described as a “multiform archipelago,” composed of multiple national styles: the Scandinavian countries, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, but also China, India, and Japan are among the nations most recently studied. Secondly, on a theoretical level, next to Mendelism, which was dominant in the British and North American contexts, neo-Lamarckism has been identified as one of the constitutive elements of the eugenic discourse, above all in several nations, such as France, Russia and Brazil. In parallel, “Nordic” eugenics has been coupled with “Latin” eugenics, widespread in Catholic countries such as Italy, France, Spain, Belgium and some Latin American nations. Thirdly, the definition of eugenics as a “pseudo-science” is being progressively substituted by an analysis that is more conscious of the relationships of eugenics to genetics and other scientific disciplines, such as demography, statistics and psychology. Finally, the myth of eugenics as an essentially reactionary field, mostly linked to sexist, racist, anti-Semitic and generally right-wing movements, has been replaced with an historically more mature evaluation, which is more knowledgeable about the fascination exercised by the eugenic thinking also in the left-wing milieu: from the first British feminists to German and Swedish social-democrats; from Spanish anarchists to French communists. In the context of this fertile comparative approach, the Italian case - notwithstanding its crucial importance, also from an international point of view, due to the role of Fascism and of the Catholic Church - has long been neglected, or has been studied in an incomplete manner, as a component of the fascist population policy or State racism. Based on previously unexplored archival documentation, this book offers a first general overview of the history of Italian eugenics, not limited to the decades of Fascist regime, but instead ranging from the beginning of the 1900s to the first half of the 1970s. A revised edition of the book was published in 2011 in English, under the title "Building the New Man. Eugenics, Racial science and Genetics in Twentieth-Century Italy" (Central European University Press Studies in the History of Medicine, New York-Budapest 2011).
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11567/257048
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