Sarah Walsh at LASA Congress 2013
I took part in this year’s Latin American Studies Association Congress, held in Washington, DC between May 29 and June 1. My talk, “Natural Partners: Eugenics and the Modernization of Chilean Gender Roles, 1900-1950” was a part of a panel entitled, “Emplacements of Memory: a Gender Framework.” It featured Mayda A. Alvarez Suarez from the Centro de Estudios de la Mujer (Cuba) as the chair. Other presenters included Yolany E. Martinez from the University of Oklahoma (US) and Lucia Rayas from the Escuela Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (Mexico). All the papers examined the role of gender in early twentieth century Latin America. My paper explored how eugenics in Chile was used to rationalize, naturalize, and modernize patriarchal social structures. Specifically, it illuminated how shared beliefs between Catholic and secular Chileans regarding gender norms facilitated the creation of a unique scientific discourse.