The Hour of Eugenics: Race, Gender and Nation in Latin America / Edition 1

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Eugenics was a term coined in 1883 to name the scientific and social theory which advocated "race improvement" through selective human breeding. In Europe and the United States the eugenics movement found many supporters before it was finally discredited by its association with the racist ideology of Nazi Germany. Examining for the first time how eugenics was taken up by scientists and social reformers in Latin America, Nancy Leys Stepan compares the eugenics movements in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina with the more familiar cases of Britain, the United States, and Germany.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"'The Hour of Eugenics' serves as an important corrective to the myopic vision underlying much of the older historiography of the movement. . . . A sophisticated, non-reductionist treatment of an important topic. . . . A splendid book."—Journal of the History of Medicine

"In a thoughtful and carefully researched book, Nancy Stepan examines the political, cultural, and scientific roles of eugenics in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico from the 1910s through the 1940s. . . . She skillfully shows the ideological dualities resulting from eugenic practices. . . . An excellent addition to the literature on eugenics and the history of science in Latin America."—Medical History

"Stepan's warning regarding the politics of scientific interpretation in the future seems most appropriate. . . . This is an important book, meticulously done, and will be of significant value to Latin Americanists (especially Brazilianists), to historians of science and medicine and to those concerned with the history of ideas as well as those interested in the rise (and fall?) of eugenics."—American Historical Review

"Race is the primary focus in Nancy Leys Stepan's fascinating account of the fortunes of eugenic ideas and policies in the notoriously racially mixed setting of Latin America. . . . Stepan has now made a significant contribution to an international picture of the development of race and population policies. It is particularly useful in showing the remarkable plasticity of racist discourses on reproduction."—Signs

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801497957
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 747,740
  • Product dimensions: 6.03 (w) x 9.03 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Leys Stepan is Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University. She is the author of Eradication, "The Hour of Eugenics": Race, Gender, and Nation in Latin America and Picturing Tropical Nature, all from Cornell.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Science and Social Knowledge
1. The New Genetics and the Beginnings of Eugenics
2. Eugenics in Latin America: Its Origins and Institutional Ecology
3. Racial Poisons and the Politics of Heredity in Latin America in the 1920s
4. "Matrimonial Eugenics": Gender and the Construction of Negative Eugenics
5. National Identities and Racial Transformations
6. U.S., Pan American, and Latin Visions of Eugenics
7. Conclusion: Science and the Politics of Interpretation


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