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Civilizing Argentina: Science, Medicine, and the Modern State

Civilizing Argentina: Science, Medicine, and the Modern State

by Julia Rodriguez

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After a promising start as a prosperous and liberal democratic nation at the end of the nineteenth century, Argentina descended into instability and crisis. This stark reversal, in a country rich in natural resources and seemingly bursting with progress and energy, has puzzled many historians. In Civilizing Argentina, Julia Rodriguez takes a sharply contrary view, demonstrating that Argentina's turn of fortune is not a mystery but rather the ironic consequence of schemes to "civilize" the nation in the name of progressivism, health, science, and public order.

With new medical and scientific information arriving from Europe at the turn of the century, a powerful alliance developed among medical, scientific, and state authorities in Argentina. These elite forces promulgated a political culture based on a medical model that defined social problems such as poverty, vagrancy, crime, and street violence as illnesses to be treated through programs of social hygiene. They instituted programs to fingerprint immigrants, measure the bodies of prisoners, place wives who disobeyed their husbands in "houses of deposit," and exclude or expel people deemed socially undesirable, including groups such as labor organizers and prostitutes. Such policies, Rodriguez argues, led to the destruction of the nation's liberal ideals and opened the way to the antidemocratic, authoritarian governments that came later in the twentieth century.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807877241
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 12/08/2006
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Julia Rodriguez is associate professor of history and women's studies at the University of New Hampshire.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

This is an outstanding scholarly work. Julia Rodriguez subtly explores the ways in which scientists sought to redirect Argentine history. Civilizing Argentina is original, insightful, and bound to redirect Argentine historiography." —Jeremy Adelman, Princeton University

Julia Rodriguez argues that the wealth and development during Argentina's 'golden era' did not bring progress, freedom, or equality. In fact, the seeds of social decay were planted in this period. With compelling evidence from medical, legal, judicial, and political professionals and elites, government reports, and the popular press, this book makes a very significant contribution to the field of medical and social history in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. It also is of great value for its comparative potential with medical and social histories in other regions.—Kristin Ruggiero, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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