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Building the New Man

Eugenics, Racial Science and Genetics in Twentieth-Century Italy

By Francesco Cassata

Publication Year: 2011

Discusses several fundamental themes of the comparative history of eugenics: the importance of the Latin eugenic model; the relationship between eugenics and fascism; the influence of Catholicism on the eugenic discourse and the complex links between genetics and eugenics. It examines the Liberal pre-fascist period and the post-WW2 transition from fascist and racial eugenics to medical and human genetics. As far as fascist eugenics is concerned, the book provides a refreshing analysis, considering Italian eugenics as the most important case-study in order to define Latin eugenics as an alternative model to its Anglo-American, German and Scandinavian counterparts. Analyses in detail the nature-nurture debate during the State racist campaign in fascist Italy (1938–1943) as a boundary tool in the contraposition between the different institutional, political and ideological currents of fascist racism.

Published by: Central European University Press

Series: CEU Press Studies in the History of Medicine

Series title page

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Title page

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Copyright page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Research and writing for this book has been supported by many institutions and individuals. My first debt of gratitude is to Marius Turda, for his support and guidance during the process of revision, translation and publication of the book. Discussions with colleagues at seminars and conferences where I presented my work helped in clarifying many of my arguments: I would like to mention in particular the workshop ...

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pp. 1-8

Francis Galton’s gospel was quickly spread around the world. In 1924, a report of the International Commission of Eugenics published in Eugenical News listed fifteen countries in which eugenics had assumed an institutional form: England, Germany, the United States, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Argentina, Cuba and Russia; countries ...

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CHAPTER I Between Lombroso and Pareto: the Italian Way to Eugenics

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pp. 9-42

The First International Eugenics Congress was held in London between 24 and 31 July 1912, under the presidency of Leonard Darwin. The large Italian delegation included some of the most relevant figures of positivist science: jurist Raffaele Garofalo (1851–1934), anthropologists Giuseppe Sergi (1841–1936) and Vincenzo Giuffrida-Ruggeri (1872–1921), psychiatrists Enrico Morselli (1852–1929) and Antonio Marro (1840–1913), economist ...

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CHAPTER II Eugenics and Dysgenics of War

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pp. 43-68

At the start of the nineteenth century, the dream of a Greater Italy, with a leading role in the construction of modern civilization, was resumed by political movements that rebelled against Giolitti’s liberal so-called Italietta [a petty Italy]. The imperialistic nationalism, the intellectual group of La Voce, futurism, and revolutionary syndicalism all shared the myth of a national regeneration, and transformed ...

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CHAPTER III Regenerating Italy (1919–1924)

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pp. 69-134

The First World War was a catalyzing event for Italian eugenics. The anxiety over biological regeneration that accompanied the end of the conflict, together with the new dimension assumed by the State as manager of collective biological resources and protector of the health integrity of the social body1 initiated a new season of growth and development in the eugenic debate. ...

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CHAPTER IV Quality through Quantity: Eugenics in Fascist Italy

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pp. 135-221

The political rise of Benito Mussolini was followed with enthusiasm and trepidation by many mainline eugenicists. In December 1927, Raymond Pearl wrote to Corrado Gini: “I should like enormously to meet Mussolini. I have a great admiration for him. He seems to me to be the only really big figure of our times.”1 In 1928, thanks to Gini’s intervention, the Norwegian Jon Alfred Mjøen, director ...

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CHAPTER V Eugenics and Racism (1938–1943)

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pp. 223-284

Current historiography has completely dismantled the monolithic description of fascist racism in Italy. In fact, according to the most recent research, official racism developed in Italy, between 1938 and 1943, along three different lines, each distinct from an ideological, political and institutional point of view.1 ...

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CHAPTER VI Toward a New Eugenics

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pp. 285-352

From 24 to 31 August 1953, the 9th International Congress of Genetics was held in Bellagio, on the banks of Lake Como. Some of the most important names of the discipline were present among the 863 participants, including Haldane, Penrose, Dobzhansky and Darlington. At the end of the Congress, two excursions offered participants the chance for an Italian summer trip: ...

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CHAPTER VII Against UNESCO: Italia n Eugenics and American Scientific Racism

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pp. 353-379

The fight against racism has been a constituent aspect of UNESCO’s actions since its inception. In 1946, while defining the philosophical guidelines of the young UN affiliated organization, UNESCO’s first director general, British naturalist Julian Huxley, set the conciliation of the ethical and political principles of equality with the biological fact of diversity as an objective. ...

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pp. 381-385

The eugenic gospel spread in Italy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, providing a scientific solution for the profound political, economic and social problems characterizing a country that had achieved political unification only in 1871. The construction of a national identity, social cohesion, and the problem of emigration were as central to eugenics as they were to other social and political movements. ...


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pp. 387-417

Index of Names

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pp. 419-428

back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789639776890
Print-ISBN-13: 9789639776838

Page Count: 440
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: CEU Press Studies in the History of Medicine