Civilizing Argentina Science, Medicine, and the Modern State

ISBN-10: 080785669X
ISBN-13: 9780807856697
Edition: 2006
Authors: Julia Rodriguez
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Description: 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  More...

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Book details

List price: $35.00
Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 2/27/2006
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 320
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.034

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.

Symptoms
Barbarism and the civilizing sciences
The rise of the social pathologists : merging science and the state
Diagnosis
A national science to investigate the "abnormal individual"
Defects of organic constitution : degeneration of the nation's "germ plasm"
Prescriptions
Women confined to save the future nation : home and houses of deposit
Men on the street : a threat to "our industrial and social organization"
Places of regeneration : prison and asylum as "medicine for the soul"
Hygiene
Public hygiene against foreign contagion and "sanitary anarchy"
To "formulate a new race, the Argentine race," for democracy and civic regeneration
"Fully attacking the source of moral infection" : purging the nation of incurables
Afterword : a "new civilization" shaped by science : its paradoxes and its consequences
Provinces and territories of Argentina and native tribes of the Buenos Aires region, ca. 1840
Buenos Aires, waterfront and surrounding Barrios, circa 1910

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