Claudia Mantovani

Rigenerare la stirpe: il movimento eugenico italiano e la Grande Guerra (1915-1924)

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The essay explores the connection between the experience of the Great War and the birth and growth of a national eugenics movement in the Italian context. Moving from different "sociobiological" interpretations of war, the eugenics debate is related to the theme of the political and biological regeneration of the nation, which permeates postwar discourse, particularly in the emerging fields of demography, social medicine and sexual reform. In the first half of the '20s the need of a eugenic policy mediated by the State is voiced especially by doctors and hygienists educated in the reformist tradition of both liberalism and socialism. Radicalized by fascist authoritarian nationalism, however, the rhetoric of national biological efficiency is bound to collide with the antinatalist inspiration of radical eugenic legislation, surviving only as a "quantitative" eugenics, coherent with an expansionist population policy and the moral tenets of Catholicism.

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