Sebastian Gil-Riano, Sarah Walsh and Ricardo Roque at the History of Science Society meeting

A panel comprising several of our fellows and associates has been accepted at the History of Science Society annual meeting for 2015. The meeting will be held in San Francisco, California, 19-22 November 2015.

Sebastián Gil-­Riaño, Sarah Walsh and Ricardo Roque, at the University of Lisbon, will present alongside Vivette García‐Deister and Carlos López­‐Beltrán, of the Universidad Nacional Áutonoma de Mexico. Their topic is ‘Race Science in the Latin World in the Twentieth-­Century’. Gabriela Soto Laveaga, of the University of California Santa Barbara, will act as discussant and Warwick Anderson will chair the session.

Is there such a thing as Latin race science? This panel interrogates the ‘Latin World’ as a historiographical unit of analysis and examines what purpose it serves in studies of race science in the twentieth century. Optimistic valuations of race mixing have been considered a defining trait of racial thought in Lusophone, French, and Spanish­‐speaking countries, vis-à-vis its Northern European counterparts. In the Luso-Brazilian world, the popularization of these visions of racial harmony is often attributed to Gilberto Freyre’s philosophy of ‘luso-­tropicalism’, which described a special and benign inclination to inter-marriage as a unique feature of a benevolent Portuguese colonialism.

More recently, Nancy Stepan’s work on eugenics in Latin America (1991) popularized “Latin Eugenics” as a term and category of analysis. Developed in so-­called Latin nations, Latin Eugenics was self-­consciously designed as a distinct and more plastic version of the projects of hereditary enhancement developed in Nordic and Anglo-­Saxon countries. The term “Latin” has proven popular among historians of eugenics but there has been less concern with applying it to other social and human sciences. However, since considerations of race mixing and societal improvement in South America and elsewhere were also connected to disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, and psychology, this panel asks whether ‘Latin’ can be productively expanded beyond eugenics. Drawing on illustrative examples from different countries, regions, and periods this panel will explore the geographic and temporal limits of Latin race science as a unit of analysis and raise critical discussions concerning its place within global approaches in the history of science.

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