Building the New Man
Eugenics, Racial Science and Genetics in Twentieth-Century Italy
Based on previously unexplored archival documentation, this book offers the 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.
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.
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"The book's subtitle promises coverage of the twentieth century, though Cassata rewards the reader with treatment of the movement in the late nineteenth century. He does well to demonstrate the multidisciplinary character of eugenics, from its early days in Italy onward. Eugenics drew on the study of demography, biology, anthropology, law, statistics, economy, sociology and medicine. Central European University Press lists Building the New Man in its series on the history of medicine, though Cassata demonstrates that Italian eugenics owed its intellectual heritage to more than medicine. Cassata demonstrates that fascists were driven less by negative eugenics than one might have thought. Perhaps from Germany, Italy absorbed the use of sterilization sterilization, abortion and euthanasia to minimize the number of so-called degenerates. But not all fascists embraced these ideas. After World War II conflict arose between eugenicists who were racists and those who opposed racism. Tensions also arose between old-line eugenicists who favoured sterilization and abortion and Catholic eugenicists who favoured reproductive rights. Only after World War II did Italian eugenicists begin to co-opt the ideas of genetics to legitimize the movement, adding further credence to the insight that Italy was a latecomer to genetics."—Canadian Journal of History
"Historical studies on the eugenic movements have been flourishing in the last decades, while the peculiar Italian case suffered from a strange scholarly neglect. At last Cassata's book makes the case known to the international public and gives us an overall and original narrative that deals with events, institutions, and actors in Italy during the 20th century."—Claudio Pogliano
Other Titles from CEU Press Studies in the History of Medicine
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