Recent historiography of Latin America has evinced a growing interest in the various ways racial ideas affected the political, social, and cultural development of the new nations. This paper addresses the particular connection between racial thought and the emergence of a social reform movement in Argentina at the turn of the century. The idea of race provided a common language and a “scientific” foundation for a wide variety of discourses connected to the Argentine social question—problems such as public health, criminology, immigration control, anarchism, and labor militancy that were the consequences of urbanization and industrialization. In this context, race transcended all ideological boundaries and, as we shall see, was adopted as a key term by intellectuals and politicians of all persuasions. Ideas that later became symbols of reactionary politics, such as the intrinsic superiority of certain racial groups over others or the need for a scientific regulation of racial purity, were at that time considered to be progressive notions, accepted by liberal reformers and socialists both in Argentina and in the countries where many of these doctrines originated.1

Historians of the Argentine social question have tended to identify racism as an aristocratic prejudice, disguised as nationalism and used by the elites to repress social unrest or justify class privileges.2 This approach neglects the crucial role that intellectuals and professionals associated with the scientific development of social policies played in the political debate of the early twentieth century. These liberal reformers and socialists shared a modern, secular outlook toward the social question, which they wanted to solve according to the latest developments in the social sciences. Among these groups, the idea of a scientific regulation of racial purity was seen as part of a new set of state functions directed toward solving the social question, rather than as a foundation for aristocratic nationalism and xenophobic attitudes.

A large number of specialized journals dedicated to these issues provided a forum for these new intellectual currents. Discussions in the Argentine Congress revealed the impact of these ideas on policy debates, while judicial decisions also reflected the influence of racial theories, mainly through the doctrines of the Italian school of criminology led by Cesare Lombroso and Enrico Ferri.

The concept of race was far from clearly defined. To some reformers it could imply the distinction between different ethnic categories and the establishment of a hierarchy of “superior” and “inferior” races. This distinction, in turn, was based sometimes on biological factors and sometimes on geographical, historical, and cultural factors. It was not uncommon to confuse race with nationality, or to link biological and cultural features of different racial groups as inseparable. It has been suggested that the question of whether biological, environmental, or historical factors determined certain racial distinctions is “secondary.”3 In the case of Argentina, that question can be helpful in perceiving important differences in political and ideological alignments. What characterized the approach of many liberal social reformers was their concentration on heredity and biological determinism, which they took to be advanced tools of scientific analysis and policy. On the other hand, nationalist conservative writers such as Ricardo Rojas and Manuel Gálvez, who held a strongly negative view of the effects of the country’s modernization on its spiritual life, tended to concentrate on the cultural incompatibilities of certain “races” and the Argentine Indo-Hispanic heritage, disregarding the modern, progressive, and “scientific” approach of the liberal intelligentsia.4

Other commentators used “race” to describe the biological constitution of the population, thereby playing an important part in the origination of specific social legislation aimed at the preservation of public health and hygiene; these were seen as fundamental elements in the fight against racial degeneration.

For this study I have chosen no particular definition of race but instead have accepted whatever meaning the specific actors using it intended it to have, thus concentrating more on the different “images” of race and their effect on certain social issues than on the appropriateness of any particular interpretation of the concept. Argentine reformers were influenced by many different racial discourses. During the second half of the nineteenth century the prestige of Darwinism provided a common foundation to a wide variety of schools and movements, and the combination of racial ideas with social reform movements became a common feature of Western political thought and action at the turn of the century. As Stefan Collini has pointed out, there was “an almost frenetic search for guidance in social action, guidance which at the most fundamental level it was felt that only the laws of social development could provide. Hence the appeal of Social Darwinist theorizing. . . .” Race, writes Elie Halévy, had become the keystone of the current sociological systems.5

Varieties of Racial Thought

The most common combination of racial and social ideas was, of course, Social Darwinism. One of the problems Social Darwinism poses is the wide variety of interpretations to which it has been subjected. Probably the most extended view is its identification with the doctrines of Herbert Spencer, undoubtedly one of the most influential thinkers of the nineteenth century. His doctrine, in its most extreme version, implied a “scientific” condemnation of any intervention in the process of selection operating in society as rigorously as in the natural world. This credo was fervently adopted and disseminated in the United States by economists like William Graham Sumner and businessmen like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.6

The Spencerian interpretation, however, was by no means the only one. As Michael Freeden has shown in the case of the English New Liberals, the same biological and evolutionary doctrines that upheld Spencer’s scheme were used as an argument for state intervention in social and economic matters, significantly abetting the ideological conformation of different currents of social reform. “Reform Darwinism” claimed that social solidarity and mutual aid, not competition, were the genuine requisites for progress in human evolution.7

Other reformers linked the Spencerian interpretation to the struggle between groups, not individuals, giving birth to a mixture of racialism, nationalism, and imperial expansionism, as exemplified by Theodore Roosevelt and Joseph Chamberlain with their ideals of Anglo-Saxon imperialism and the Union of the Teutonic Peoples, respectively. This “external” Social Darwinism also emphasized social reform and the elimination of “internal” competition as a means of achieving a standard of “national efficiency” that would ensure victory in the struggle against other groups.8

Still others saw the main threat to national interests in the deterioration of the physical health and racial purity of the population, and sought the remedy in eugenics, the selective breeding of the population favoring the fit and discouraging the unfit in order to improve human stock. George Bernard Shaw summarized this position in his play Man and Superman (1903), claiming that “the socialization of the selective breeding of man” was “the only fundamental and possible socialism.”9 The connection between the eugenics movement and social imperialism was established by Karl Pearson, one of the leading eugenicists, in his definition of “the scientific view of a nation”:

an organized whole, kept up to a high pitch of internal efficiency by ensuring that its numbers are substantially recruited from the better stocks, and kept to a high pitch of external efficiency by contest, chiefly by way of war with inferior races, and with equal races by the struggle for trade routes and for the sources of raw material and of food supply.10

In addition to absorbing these Anglo-Saxon intellectual currents, Argentine intellectuals, like so many others in Latin America, looked to France for guidance. The neo-Lamarckĺan concept of heredity and descent put forth by French scientists, with its emphasis on the inheritance of acquired characteristics, and the theory of degeneration espoused by Morel provided further examples of the fusion of biological and social thought. As Nancy Stepan shows in her book on Latin American eugenics, the neo-Lamarckians’ “soft” theory of inheritance, which allowed for environmental factors in the hereditary process, suited perfectly the Latin American progressives’ optimism about the reform of social conditions and the development of the sanitation sciences as means to racial improvement. On the other hand, neo-Lamarckianism could also justify the view that race was inevitably degenerating because of a poor environment and the influence of “racial poisons,” such as alcohol, venereal diseases, and harsh working conditions.11

Finally, the Italian school of criminology, with its identification of crime as a biological pathology and its definition of a typical “criminal man” based on anatomical features, also contributed to the Argentine concern with racial degeneration.

This concern became a preoccupation during what is generally regarded as the country’s “age of progress,” producing a curious tension between the notions of progress and decline—a tension which, as Daniel Pick has shown, was also an important part of European cultural life at the turn of the century.12 In Argentina, this tension is partly explained in that the very idea of progress had been based on a strong racial component: progress had been identified with the preponderance of the “right” races in the Argentine population.

Racial Ideas and the Ideology of Progress

A belief in the cultural and biological superiority of certain European peoples was not uncommon in regions of recent settlement. Australia, Canada, and the United States saw their immigration policies shaped to a large extent by this belief, and by the turn of the century “it was still possible for intelligent, humane, and sensitive people to believe that Europeans enjoyed an intrinsic, biologically transmitted superiority over non-Europeans.”13 In Latin America, with important variations from country to country regarding the value of mestizaje and the whitening ideal, this belief was also generally accepted.14

In late nineteenth-century Argentina, the combination of diverse social interpretations of Darwinian biology and the optimism derived from Spencer’s widely accepted law of progress provided an intellectual foundation for the period of expansion, creating a true “ideology of progress.”15 But these expectations of unlimited material progress, fueled largely by the spectacular economic growth of the period, were paralleled by a growing concern for the relative backwardness of the country’s political culture. Intellectuals, politicians, and statesmen connected both to the racial composition of the population, in what can be described as the “optimistic” and “pessimistic” racial interpretations of the country’s future.

Among the pessimists, European intellectuals were an important source of inspiration. Gustav Le Bon, in The Psychology of Peoples— probably the most influential work of racial theory in Latin America— had spelled out “the reasons why it is impossible for an inferior people to adopt a superior civilization.” The “inevitable anarchy of the Spanish American republics” was due, according to Le Bon, to “the mere fact that the race is different and lacks the qualities possessed by the people of the United States. . . .. ”16 In Argentina, Lucas Ayarragaray, a physician who, like many of his colleagues, combined his profession with intellectual and political activities, wrote extensively on the problem of race, closely following the arguments put forward by Le Bon. Argentina’s political deficiencies were ultimately due to “the hereditary constitution,” and had to be treated as a problem of “biological psychology.” Without improving the racial composition of the country with European immigrants, he stated, it would be impossible to adapt Western institutions, because these had developed “amidst homogeneously superior populations” while Argentina’s had a “degenerative propensity.”17

Many Argentine intellectuals chose to put more emphasis on the benefits that European immigration had already granted. Thus, Carlos Octavio Bunge, in Nuestra América (1903), attributed to the difference in ethnic composition the struggles between Buenos Aires (European) and the interior (Indian and mestizo)—Buenos Aires benefiting from the fact that its Indian population had been devastated by alcohol, smallpox, and tuberculosis, thus “purifying its ethnic elements.” Gabriel Carrasco, in his commentary to the report of the second national census (1895), stated that although the Latin race predominated in the local population, “Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, and Scandinavian races contribute to its improvement.” The result would be “a new and beautiful white race produced by the contact of all European nations fecundated on American soil.” Others chose to emphasize the more practical aspects of this beneficial influence: “From the fusion of the Latin genius with the Anglo-Saxon energy has issued a new product, extremely capable in business, full of practical sense, and very open to progress . . .”18

Joaquin V. González, one of the most influential voices in the debate on the social question, also wrote extensively on race. Although he supported regulation of immigration, he believed that Argentina had “the enormous advantage of not having inferior ethnic elements in her population,” this being the factor that explained her advantage over other Latin American nations.19 Similarly, Estanislao Zeballos, an influential politician and foreign affairs minister, remarked in 1906 that Argentina, among all the Spanish American nations, had been “the one to go forward the most rapidly and with the greatest uniformity,” because the country had a homogeneous population “consisting of pure-blooded Europeans or mestizos produced by the crossing of more than three centuries.”20

That same year, the Buenos Aires Herald reproduced a conversation between the Argentine representative in Washington, Dr. García Merou, and the U. S. president, Theodore Roosevelt, in which both agreed in attributing to the “purity of the blood” and the “superiority of the race” the success of Argentina in Latin America. The indiscretion of the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs in making this conversation public (parts of it were denied by the U. S. representative in Buenos Aires) was, according to a British diplomat, an example of “the inborn vanity of the Argentines.” British diplomats, however, were not exempt from some degree of vanity: they did not disguise their pride in reporting that British influence in Argentina extended to the biological field. “Our influence is steadily improving the race, the habits of thought, and the character of the State and its inhabitants.”21

It is interesting to note that those who reacted against the most extreme racist interpretations also based their arguments on racial terms, thus reflecting the extent to which racial categories predominated in the intellectual outlook of this period.22 Agustín Alvarez, for instance, founding vice president of the University of La Plata and one of the most respected liberal intellectuals of his age, rejected the pervading influence of biological determinism in the analysis of Argentine institutions. In his Transformación de las razas en América (1908), Alvarez attributed the political and institutional backwardness of Latin America to cultural factors such as the undisputed domination of the Catholic church, and stated that a cultural transformation was the key to genuine racial improvement: “Una raza de hombres no se mejora durablemente por la cruza con otras ya mejoradas, como los ganados, sino por la mejora de sus propias ideas, sentimientos y costumbres. . . . ,”23

Similarly, former Argentine President Carlos Pellegrini questioned the exaggerated interpretations inspired by Le Bon. Lamenting “the superficial and incomplete examination of the facts” upon which Le Bon had based his analysis, Pellegrini accused the French writer of using “a number of inaccurate and prejudiced facts, which have been gathered from the writings of a dyspeptic and ill-tempered journalist.”24 Pellegrini denied any fundamental distinction between Anglo-Saxon and Latin races; on the contrary, he believed in “the unity of the human race,” which led him to an optimistic conclusion about the future of Argentina:

The hazards of life, in the course of centuries, having dispersed the primitive race throughout the earth, it has formed, under the influence of circumstances, new types, which in the course of time have met and mingled, to form new crosses in their turn, which as a matter of fact are only modalities of a common primitive race . . .. Thus this Republic possesses all the requisite conditions of becoming, with the passage of time, one of the greatest nations of the earth.25

Race, therefore, pervaded both pessimistic and optimistic visions of the Argentine future, and its influence went beyond ideological and political divisions. Socialist intellectuals and politicians shared many of the assumptions of the evolutionist-racialist approach expounded by liberals and conservatives. Leading Argentine socialists reflected in their pronouncements the importance of the principles of Darwinism and biology in the conformation of their particular brand of socialism. Alfredo Palacios, the first socialist congressman elected in Latin America, made in one of his first interventions in the Chamber of Deputies a particular interpretation of the interaction of Darwinism and socialism. Socialism, he said, wanted “equality at the starting point, so that, according to the rules of Darwinian theory, the fittest shall prevail and become the best.” Juan B. Justo, founder of the Socialist party, did not go that far, but began his book Teoría y práctica de la historia (1909) with a chapter on “the biological bases of history.” Justo put forth a biological interpretation of human history based on Malthusian and Darwinian ideas, but rejected the idea of a racial hierarchy, which he considered “a defense of privilege in scientific garb.” Augusto Bunge, socialist diputado and a leading force in the Departamento Nacional de Higiene, similarly claimed that human ethics should be based on biology. Unlike Justo, he did condemn colored races as anthropologically and morally inferior to Caucasians.26

José Ingenieros, another socialist writer and one of the most influential Latin American intellectuals of this period, revealed how far the new evolutionary ideas, and the principle of the struggle for life in particular, had gone in forming the new outlook when he declared the republican trilogy of “liberté, égalité, fraternité . . . scientifiquement absurde: Le determinisme nie la liberté, la biologie nie l’egalité, et le principe de la lutte pour la vie, auquel sont soumis tous les êtres vivants, nie la fraternité.”27 Ingenieros was also one of the foremost advocates of racial interpretations of social phenomena. The superiority of the white race, he said, made inevitable in the Americas the progressive substitution of the indigenous races, as ex-emplified by the emergence of an “Argentine white race.”28 He played an important part in the fusion of biology, psychiatry, and criminology that characterized the emergent Argentine field of legal medicine.

Race, Crime, and the Social Question

In the prevailing intellectual climate, the problems posed by the emerging Argentine social question were inevitably associated with racial ideas. In 1908, a British observer stated that labor unrest was the result of labor being “recruited from the lower class of immigrants, and from a race not remarkable for stability,” an interpretation that was widely shared by Argentine intellectuals and politicians. These trends were also reflected in literature, with novels like Eugenio Cambaceres’ En la sangre (1887) or Julián Martel’s Bolsa (1890), which displayed marked racial prejudices in their treatment of Italian and Jewish immigrants. The number of Italians and Spaniards arrested by the police for criminal offenses and anarchist activism during the first years of this century reinforced the popular belief in the intrinsic “criminal tendencies” of Latin immigrants.29

Here, the role played by the Italian positivist school of criminology deserves careful consideration. The distinctive feature of this school, which had its first declaration of principles in Lombroso’s Criminal Man (1876), was the treatment of crime as a biological pathology to be studied empirically, discarding the metaphysical notions of free will or individual responsibility and the classical tradition of criminal law associated with the works of Beccaria and Bentham. Criminals, not crime, were, according to Lombroso, the proper object of study. He thus developed a detailed account of anatomical stigmata that characterized the typical uomo delinquente. These features, including a large jaw, a low and narrow forehead, and large ears, helped to identify those who had an innate proclivity for crime. Once they were identified, their punishment had nothing to do with their individual responsibility—their criminal tendency having been biologically determined—but was instead a necessary measure of social protection.30

In Argentina, the principles of positivist criminology were adopted by jurists and hygienists concerned with problems of criminality and social unrest. The late 1880s saw the founding of the Sociedad de Antropología Jurídica by José María Ramos Mejía (director of the Asistencia Pública), José Nicolás Matienzo (later of the Department of Labor), and Rodolfo Rivarola (later director of the Revista Argentina de Ciencias Políticas), among others. Luis María Drago’s Hombres de presa (1888) and Antonio Dellepiane’s Causas del delito (1892) were the first works of Argentine jurists who adhered to the new school.31 The publication of a scientific journal, Criminalogía Moderna, in 1898 marked the beginning of the school’s expansion. The journal, founded in Buenos Aires by Pietro Gori, an Italian lawyer who sympathized with peaceful anarchism, listed among its collaborators the leading Italian criminologists (Lombroso, Ferri, Raffaele Garofalo, Napoleone Colajanni) and united many of the leading Argentine criminologists: Dellepiane, Drago, Rivarola, Osvaldo Piñero, Juan Vucetich (who developed fingerprinting as a means of perfecting the anthropometric identification of criminals), and Ingenieros.

Argentine criminologists adhered to the basic tenets of the Italian school and received encouragement and support from its leaders. Lombroso translated and wrote a prologue for Drago’s book and for Cornelio Moyano Gacitúa’s Delincuencia argentina ante algunas cifras y teorías (1905); Ferri lectured extensively in Argentina. In 1902 Ingenieros founded the Archivos de Psiquiatría y Criminología, a journal that continued until 1913, when it was succeeded by the Revista de Criminología, Psiquiatría y Medicina Legal as a meeting ground for criminologists, alienists, and hygienists concerned with the social question. In 1907 President Figueroa Alcorta appointed Ingenieros director of the newly created Instituto de Criminología, which became the institutional location of the school.32 In 1908, in the prologue to La mala vida en Buenos Aires, by another member of the institute, Eusebio Gómez, Ingenieros summarized some of the new school’s main tenets. Criminals ignored that they were the victims of a complex determinism, based on both heredity and milieu, “espíritus que sobrellevan la fatalidad de herencias enfermizas o sufren la carcoma inexorable de las miserias ambientes.” Ethical considerations were of little use in treating these individuals; crime had to be seen as an abnormal expression of the principles of the struggle for life.33

Following the teachings of their Italian colleagues, Argentine criminologists replaced the principles of free will and moral responsibility of the classical school with the idea of “social defense” as the justification for punishment. They also extended this approach to the problem of anarchism. Lombroso had argued that the features that characterized innate criminals could also be found in anarchists. The assassinations of several European heads of state during the 1890s had generated serious concern about the lack of proper “social defense.” Francisco de Veyga, professor of legal medicine at the University of Buenos Aires, described the problem of anarchism as an issue of social defense that was completely outside the social question; the social question was a complex problem destined to be solved by political means, while “la delincuencia anarquista” was “a problem of social hygiene to be dealt with by the police exclusively.” Anarchists were considered psychologically prone to “emotional crisis,” which could lead them—as in the assassination attempt against President Quintana—to an “abnormal spiritual condition.” As for their physical features, deformed ears were seen as “an evident sign of degeneration.” In Simon Radowitzky, who killed Police Chief Ramón L. Falcón in 1909, “an excessive development of the inferior jaw, a depression in his forehead, a light facial asymmetry” were taken to reveal “the stigma of criminality.”34

The extreme biological determinism of Lombroso was highly disputed, particularly by French criminologists, who placed much more emphasis on the environmental interpretation of the origins of criminality. The old debate about the role of heredity and environment in the origins of crime re-appeared among Argentine criminologists. A leading Italian criminologist, Napoleone Colajanni, writing in Criminalogía Moderna, contradicted the exaggerated claims that had been made about the deterministic powers of race on the origins of crime. He argued against both the possibility of scientifically establishing the effect of race and environment on humans and the idea of a fixed racial hierarchy.35

Argentine criminologists, however, pointed to the correlation between immigration and increasing criminality as a proof of the connection between race and crime. Although they did not ignore economic and geographic factors, they saw criminal tendencies as inevitably transmitted by heredity, thereby creating a permanent danger to society. They expected this danger to be attenuated somewhat by the benign influence of “Saxon immigration,” but mainly by a policy of immigration control. An article by the Cuban criminologist Fernando Ortiz published in Archivos de Psiquiatría y Criminología (1907) revealed the extent of the agreement on the issue of immigration and crime (although Latin immigration was not the problem in this case): the black and yellow races, stated Ortiz, had a stronger proclivity toward crime because “their primitive and barbaric psyches lack the altruistic element” possessed by the white race.36

The claims for immigration control went beyond the issue of crime, and the concept of “inferior races” was extended to non-Latin immigrants. Russian Jews, for instance, were considered a “physiologically degenerated race” and “a moral and economic danger,” given their practice of usury. Many also attributed the wave of labor unrest during the “Semana Trágica” of January 1919 to the influence of Russian-Jewish immigrants and their support of “maximalismo.”37 The preference for European immigration, sanctioned by the 1853 constitution, appears to have had practical consequences in at least one instance. In 1912, answering a request from the British minister in Buenos Aires, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the benefits granted by the Ley de Inmigración (e.g., accommodation at the Hotel de Inmigrantes) to 59 Sikh immigrants on the grounds that, given their origin, they were not covered by the constitutional clause.38

The urban concentration of the newcomers, particularly in Buenos Aires, was also a cause for alarm. In 1895, 59 percent of the immigrants were living in urban centers; in 1914 the percentage had grown to almost 70, while 57.3 percent of the whole population was urban, according to the national census.39 Lucas Ayarragaray saw the excessive urban concentration as the main cause of the Argentine social question; a “scientific” selection and distribution of immigration in order to avoid that concentration was the only solution to the new problems. The alternative was the appearance of “the criminal type” or, as it was described in Congress, the “modern urban monster,” engendered by the populated industrial cities of Europe and transplanted to Argentina as a consequence of too-liberal immigration policies.40

The 1876 Ley de Inmigracion was considered an insufficient tool for the achievement of safer immigration controls. The law prohibited entry to persons suffering from a contagious disease, those unable to work, the demented, beggars, criminals, and those over 60 years of age unaccompanied by their families. Enforcement of the law appears to have been lenient. Between November 1907 and June 1910, for instance, of 662,170 immigrants arriving in Argentina only 65 were excluded in accordance with the law.41

When immigration restrictions were finally enacted, as in the 1902 Ley de Residencia and the 1910 Ley de Defensa Social, many critics called for complementary social legislation on issues such as working conditions, hygiene, and housing.42 Their arguments differed according to their particular ideological or political views. Racial ideas nevertheless provided a common language in which to express these proposals and an aura of scientific prestige that gave them greater intellectual respectability. Some advocates wanted to complement the principle of competition postulated by the Spencerian interpretation of Social Darwinism with the ideals of solidarity and cooperation: “There does exist another tie,” wrote José D. Bianchi in 1899, “the mutual help in the struggle for life.”43 Others, echoing the European movements for national efficiency and Reform Darwinism, connected social reform with a national interest in the physical health of the population. Social reform was to be founded not on an appeal to principles of social justice or on individual needs but on the national interest in preventing racial degeneration through the physical decay of the population. The claim was that “the economic power and psychological structure of the nations depend upon the psycho-physiological strength of their components.”44 This concern found its strongest expression in two areas: public hygiene and labor legislation.

Hygiene, Labor Legislation, and the National Interest in Racial Strength

The neo-Lamarckian theory of heredity that emphasized the inheritance of acquired characteristics facilitated the fusion of “nature” and “nurture” in the discussion of social policies. This fusion implied a combination of programs aimed at heredity and the social environment as the targets for racial improvement. In this context, just as criminologists could advocate the exclusion of undesired immigrants, hygienists could justify many of their proposals for social legislation: it was in the national interest to preserve and strengthen public health and racial purity. These proposals covered labor legislation to avoid the effects of harsh working conditions on the workers’ hereditary constitutions; the provision of medical and welfare services, justified with similar arguments; and public campaigns against “racial poisons” like alcoholism and venereal diseases.

The second half of the nineteenth century witnessed an important expansion of state action in hygiene and public health. The creation of the Consejo de Higiene Pública in 1852 (later the Departamento Nacional de Higiene) and the Asistencia Pública de Buenos Aires in 1883 was followed by the extension of their powers of inspection and control after the terrible epidemics of 1871 and 1881. Hygienists like Eduardo Wilde and Emilio Coni did not hesitate to expand the concept of public health to include “the physical and moral welfare of the population.”45

With the emergence of the social question in the early twentieth century, hygienists took up social issues. Here was an opportunity to improve the racial composition of the country through a series of positive reforms that would overcome the negative aspects of heredity. Augusto Bunge, a socialist leader who, as mentioned, exemplified the social-biological out-look, called, from his post in the Departamento Nacional de Higiene, for improved hygienic conditions in the workplace as a means of preserving the racial strength of the population. Bunge produced numerous statistical records on the hygienic conditions, or, as he put it, “the conditions of physiological welfare,” in different industries. He was very critical of general conditions, calling for “a collective social effort” to overcome the existing shortcomings. He extended this analysis to the problem of alcoholism, which he considered the most serious consequence of the social question. As a socialist, he attributed this problem to the capitalist organization of society.46 The laws of heredity, Bunge asserted, condemned to physical degradation, crime, madness, and ultimately racial degeneration those who carried the stigma of alcoholism. In typical neo-Lamarckian fashion, Bunge saw alcoholism as a culturally acquired phenomenon (a consequence of the alienation induced by the capitalist system) that was then transmitted genetically, following the laws of heredity.47

At the other end of the political spectrum, Carlos Pellegrini displayed a similar outlook while considering Joaquín V. González’ project for a labor code. Pellegrini praised some of its proposals—such as Sunday rest or regulation of female and child labor—because they aimed not at a particular group but at “the benefit of the race, to avoid its weakness and degeneration.” Belisario Roldán, a conservative diputado, discussing his project for insurance on work accidents in 1902, emphasized the importance of social legislation because it was “a time of true ethnic revolution, of a racial transformation.”48

Working conditions for women and children were an issue central to racial concerns: “the fewer proletarian women there are, the stronger our race and our social morality.”49 During the debate on the law regulating working conditions for women and children (Ley 5291), Antonio Piñero, one of the diputados who supported the bill, explained that the goal of labor legislation was “a common goal of social, hygienic, and biological preservation, to maintain our capital of collective life, avoiding its degeneration, and ensuring its normal development and evolution in the future.”50

Alfredo Palacios, the socialist diputado who promoted many of these projects in Congress, also focused on racial preservation. During debate on the bill establishing Sunday rest (Ley 4661), he warned the chamber about workplace strain and its endproduct, “a sick organism that will inevitably lead to degeneration, with an obvious detriment to the species . . ..” In his proposals for an eight-hour workday, which he presented to Congress in 1906 and 1915, he again insisted that he was following scientifically established principles, “which will guide us to a physically and psychologically superior species.” Other advocates called for military conscription as a necessary remedy to physical deterioration; its attendant vigorous physical exercise was considered an important stimulant to the moral and intellectual health of the Latin race, seen as lagging behind the Anglo-Saxons in this area.51

Manuel Ugarte, another prominent member of the Socialist party, chose to emphasize the connection between public health and the national interest through a combination of racialism, nationalism, and social reform. For instance, he based his argument for state regulation of working hours and conditions on the need for “preserving the stock from physical degeneration and bringing up strong generations that will determine our victory.” Ugarte favored the imposition of progressive taxation as a means of redistributing wealth and financing necessary social reforms: sacrifices made by the “wealthy classes” were justified because “the interweaving of all the different interests is the purest source of national energy.” If progressive taxation was justified in times of emergency, Ugarte asserted, “it is only fair that we use it in our social war against pauperism and degeneracy, which imply the permanent defeat of the race.” Again, the solution of the social question is for Ugarte inextricably linked to the national interest:

The labor question cannot bring disinterest in the national problem. Victory of our country and advantageous attributes [ventajas corporativas] are vasos comunicantes .... A nation strengthens itself in proportion to the welfare accorded to its working classes; but these in turn can only achieve that welfare if they contribute to the progress of their country.52

Concern with the physical degeneration of the race was one of the central themes of the eugenics movement, another of the intellectual currents promoting the connection between biological theories and social reform at the turn of the century.

Eugenics in Argentina

In terms of political results, the British movement for eugenics was not very successful. Its only victory came in 1913 with the passing of the Mental Deficiency Act.53 In the United States, by contrast, 16 states by 1917 had passed legislation mandating the compulsory sterilization of certain categories of persons designated as “hereditarily unfit.” Most of those laws were eventually repealed, declared unconstitutional, or ignored until the 1920s, when the movement campaigned more effectively. In Latin America, although these ideas had drawn interest since the early twentieth century, “the hour of eugenics” arrived only after World War I when the first eugenics societies began.54

In Argentina, as we have seen, the emergence of the social question at the turn of the century was connected to a wide variety of racial interpretations, and eugenics provided scientific arguments for people searching for rational answers to the new problem. In the Argentine anarchist movement, debate raged over the merits of the rational control of human procreation. Some advocates justified the theory of neo-Malthusianism, as the idea was known, because it followed “the law of evolution of the species”: “If man improves other animal species, why shouldn’t he improve his own?” Others opposed the idea because it went against “the laws of nature”; but generally it was defended as a rational means of advancing social change or praised as wise guidance for the “rational and limited procreation of workers who want to avoid the horrors of hunger, prostitution, and crime.”55

Among criminologists it was not unusual to discuss the merits of “an artificial selection, more efficient and quicker than natural selection, to be realized through the sterilization of degenerate individuals.”56 An Argentine jurist concluded that Galton (founder of the eugenics movement in England) and Darwin had proved that the influence of heredity was inescapable in human beings and animals alike. Social life, therefore, required elimination of those criminal types that through heredity could “infect” society and cause its moral and physical degeneration. Others rejected this as extreme, defending the human organism’s right to integrity as an inseparable part of the right to life. Catholic writers condemned this “alleged social science” as “depraved and homicidal.” But for those who supported eugenics, only “ridiculous sentimentality or a lyrical liberalism” could oppose the compulsive sterilization of the degenerados.57

The consequences derived from principles of eugenics went beyond the interests of criminology. The causes of poverty and economic inequality were also identified with variations in heredity.58 But eugenics also led many to reverse this causal order and put more emphasis on the influence of poor standards of living as the cause for racial degeneration. Paulina Luisi of the Montevideo Medical School published in Buenos Aires a summary of the demands the new science put on the state: the protection of racial reproduction against mental and physical degeneration, partly through the imposition of controls on the reproduction of the hereditarily unfit, but also through a wide variety of sanitary measures. These included reform of the social environment through measures to combat alcoholism and the nonmedical use of drugs, harsh working conditions, poor physical health, and sexual diseases. All these were seen as eugenic issues, affecting the hereditary process. It was necessary to emphasize the importance of “the physical and mental condition of the parents at the moment of conception;” Luisi went so far as to ask for a revision of the existing legislation on abortion in order to give doctors more freedom to deal with this issue.59

The idea of rational control of the racial composition of the population also appealed to people outside scientific circles, such as Joaquín V. González. After promoting a national labor code in 1904 as minister of the interior, he became the leading figure in the debate on the social question.60 Racial concerns and the need to regulate immigration had been present in his thought from the first manifestations of the social question. But apparently only after the publication of the results of the First International Congress of Eugenics in London in 1912 did González discover the new science and embrace it with great enthusiasm. That same year he participated in a series of lectures by Leopold Mabilleau, organized by the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, on “Cooperación agrícola.” Mabilleau, director of the French Musée Social, had been an important figure in the development of French mutualism.61 González chose as his subject the relation between mutualism and eugenic science. The state, he said, must intervene not only to prevent the reproduction of individuals “organically degenerated or unfit,” thereby contributing to a permanent racial selection, but also to organize conditions of work, as “preventive hygiene.” Mutual aid societies and cooperatives realized a true “practical eugenics,” since they focused their work on the most numerous classes, in which— given the tendency to unchecked procreation—there was a higher chance of degeneration.62

In 1913, discussing in the Senate a project for a national census, González included in his report a section on “El problema de las razas.” He pointed to the importance of a “ley de selección” in order to preserve “the race of tomorrow.” The census, he said, must be used as a means to know the composition of the “superior races” that have populated Argentina (where, fortunately, “inferior races have been displaced”). The relevance of this knowledge, according to González, had been conclusively demonstrated by “that new science incorporated to the science of government . . . eugenic science.”63

Having established the relevance of eugenics to “the life of nations,” González tied eugenics to another favorite topic: education. In a 1914 lecture, he identified in education a mechanism of social selection, discriminating between the lower and higher elements of society and thus realizing another example of practical eugenics. Finally, in his essay “Patria y democracia” (1920), González returned to the relation between racial ideas, nationalism, and social legislation that had played such an important role in his thought.64

During the 1920s and 1930s the eugenics movement reappeared with some momentum in academic and political circles. Víctor Delfino, who had attended the First International Congress in 1912, founded in 1918 the short-lived Argentine Eugenics Society. This was followed by the Liga Argentina de Profilaxis Social during the 1920s and the Asociación Argentina de Biotipología, Eugenesia y Medicina Social during the 1930s as the institutional location of the movement. A number of legislative initiatives on social hygiene and “protection of the race” were sent to the Argentine Congress, although the movement never achieved the political clout of its counterpart in the United States.65

The Paradox of Racialism

The absence of a serious racial question in Argentina at the dawn of this century makes the prevalent language of and, in some cases, obsessive concern with race seem a condemnable exaggeration. Despite the racial rhetoric in political and intellectual circles, when compared with other Latin American nations and other regions of recent settlement Argentina did not face serious racial conflicts. By the turn of the century, massive European immigration had reduced to a small number the proportion of blacks and other ethnic minorities in the population. The answer to this paradox lies to a very large extent in the “artifactual” nature of racial ideas and racial categories: they are not a direct reflection of an existing social reality but a product of the complex interrelationship between cultural and scientific practices, and as such are constantly being “created” and modified under different social circumstances.66 Certain intellectual and scientific currents, plus factors particular to Argentina (along with the immigration, swift economic expansion and material progress, and a growing concern with the national identity), provided an appropriate ground for the development of an Argentine racial language.

This language of race and evolution, so closely associated with scientific prestige after Darwin’s discoveries, was a suitable vehicle for overcoming ideological differences on the pressing social question. The role of the state became a matter of applied social science, not of different ideological perspectives or moral values, thus giving social reformers a powerful claim to intellectual superiority. Racial ideas, therefore, acquired the status of paradigms in the social sciences, prescribing to a large degree the ways new disciplines such as hygiene, social medicine, and criminology were to develop during the period. In the political arena, racial concerns gave impulse to much of the social legislation passed during the period—such as Sunday rest, regulation of working conditions for women and children, and insurance against industrial accidents—and to the decision to regulate the immigration process. All these issues were thus transformed into parts of a new and comprehensive science of society, an “objective” science that made no ideological distinctions in its search for the solution to the new social problems.

During the interwar period, the connection between the language of race and the “scientific” approach to the social question began to weaken, as new ideological and intellectual currents began gradually but dramatically to transform the form and content of political debate in Argentina. At the turn of the century, however, they reflected the powerful influence certain ideas exerted all over the world and across all ideological boundaries on the conformation of a new relationship between state and society.

The author wishes to thank in particular Nancy Stepan, Esteban Thomsen, and two anonymous readers from the HAHR among a long list of colleagues and friends who contributed their suggestions and criticisms.


For relevant historiography, a recent collection of essays edited by Richard Graham, The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870-1940 (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1990), provides a useful bibliography. See also Charles A. Hale, “Political and Social Ideas in Latin America, 1870-1930,” in The Cambridge History of Latin America, Leslie Bethell, ed. (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986), IV, 367-441. This paper is part of a larger work on the emergence of a social reform movement among the liberal elites in Argentina, 1898-1916. I have used the term liberal reformer to describe those who, while in agreement with the basic ideological tenets of the ruling liberal-conservative order, advocated a more active role for the state in the solution of the social question and were willing, in some cases, to cooperate with the Argentine Socialist party in elaborating a moderate program. On the prevailing principles of liberalism and conservatism see Hale, “Political and Social Ideas. On the Socialist party and its attitudes toward liberal social reform see Richard Walter, The Socialist Party of Argentina, 1890-1930 (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1977). Daniel Pick has argued against “the comforting mythology which (often by reading backwards from the 1930s and the War) allies them [ideas of racial degeneration] exclusively with the intellectual world of the far Right.” Faces of Degeneration: A European Disorder, c. 1848-c. 1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1989), 30.


See for instance Carl Solberg, Immigration and Nationalism: Argentina and Chile, 1890-1914 (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1970); Sandra McGee Deutsch, Counterrevolution in Argentina, 1900-1932: The Argentina Patriotic League (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1986).


Alan Knight, “Racism, Revolution, and Indigenismo: Mexico, 1910-1940,” in Graham, Idea of Race in Latin America, 93.


On the origins of Argentine nationalism, see David Rock, “Intellectual Precursors of Conservative Nationalism in Argentina, 1900-27,” HAHR 67:2 (May 1987), 271-300. To a large extent, the nationalist attack on liberal cosmopolitanism and modernization was part of the more general anŧipositivist reaction of early twentieth-century Latin America. Cf. Hale, “Political and Social Ideas,” 414-22.


On concepts of race, cf. Nancy Stepan, The Idea of Race in Science: Great Britain 1800-1960 (London: Macmillan, 1982), xii. For the quotation, see Stefan Collini, Liberalism and Sociology: L. T. Hobhouse and Political Argument in England 1880-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1979), 188; Elie Halévy, A History of the English People in the Nineteenth Century, vol. 5, Imperialism and the Rise of Labour, 1895-1905 (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1961), 53.


On Social Darwinism cf. Gertrude Himmelfarb, “Varieties of Social Darwinism,” in her Victorian Minds (London and New York: Knopf, 1968), 314-32; Robert M. Young, “Malthus and the Evolutionists: The Common Context of Biological and Social Theory,” Past and Present 43 (May 1969), 109–41; R. J. Halliday, “Social Darwinism: A Definition,” Victorian Studies 14:4 (June 1971), 389-405; James Allen Rogers, “Darwinism and Social Darwinism,” Journal of the History of Ideas 33:2 (April–June 1967), 265-80. On Spencer’s U.S. advocates, cf. Richard Hofstadter, Social Darwinism in American Thought (Boston: Beacon Press, 1955), 51–66; Robert C. Bannister, Social Darwinism: Science and Myth in Anglo-American Social Thought (Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 1979), 97-113; Sidney Fine, Laissez Faire and the General Welfare State: A Study of Conflict in American Thought 1865-1901 (Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1956), 43-46, 79-91.


On the New Liberals, see Michael Freeden, “Biological and Evolutionary Roots of the New Liberalism in England,” Political Theory 4:4 (Nov. 1976); “Eugenics and Progressive Thought: A Study in Ideological Affinity,” The Historical Journal 22:3 (1979); and The New Liberalism: An Ideology of Social Reform (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), 76-116. See also Collini, Liberalism and Sociology, 171-208. On “Reform Darwinism” see Rogers, “Darwinism and Social Darwinism,” 267.


On Roosevelt and Chamberlain, see Halévy, History of the English People, V, 41-68. On “external” Social Darwinism, cf. Bernard Semmel, Imperial and Social Reform: English Social-Imperial Thought 1895-1914 (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1960), 29-44; G. R. Searle, The Quest for National Efficiency: A Study in British Politics and Political Thought, 1899-1914 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1971), 62-63. For similar interpretations of social reform in France, cf. Judith F. Stone, The Search for Social Peace: Reform Legislation in France, 1890-1914 (Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1985), 46.


On eugenics, cf. G. R. Searle, Eugenics and Politics in Britain, 1900-1914 (Leyden: Nordhoff, 1976), 20-44; Nancy Stepan, The Idea of Race in Science, 111-39. George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy: Definitive Text (Harmondsworth and Baltimore: Penguin, 1946, reprint 1976), 245.


Karl Pearson, National Life from the Standpoint of Science (1901), quoted by Searle, Eugenics and Politics, 36.


On the French intellectual currents see Robert A. Nye, Crime, Madness, and Politics in Modern France: The Medical Concept of National Decline (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1984), 97–131. On “racial poisons” see Nancy Stepan, “The Hour of Eugenics”: Latin America and the Movement for Racial Improvement, 1918-1940 (forthcoming), chap. 3. I am very grateful to the author for allowing me to read the manuscript of her book.


Pick, Faces of Degeneration, 11-27.


A. T. Yarwood and M. J. Knowling, Race Relations in Australia: A History (North Ryde, N.S.W., 1982), 235. See also M.A. Jones, American Immigration (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1960); Donald Avery, “Dangerous Foreigners”: European Immigrant Workers and Labour Radicalism in Canada 1896-1932 (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1979); and Howard Palmer, Patterns of Prejudice: A History of Nativism in Alberta (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1982).


See the essays by Alan Knight, Thomas Skidmore, and Aline Helg on Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Cuba, respectively, in Graham, Idea of Race in Latin America; also Charles A. Hale, The Transformation of Liberalism in Late Nineteenth-Century Mexico (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1989), 219-44; Aline Helg, “Los intelectuales frente a la cuestión racial en el decenio de 1920: Colombia entre México y Argentina,” Estudios Sociales 4 (Mar. 1989), 38-53; Thomas Skidmore, Black into White: Race and Nationality in Brazilian Thought (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1974), 53-64; Nancy Stepan, Hour of Eugenics, chap. 5.


Cf. Marcelo Monserrat, “La mentalidad evolucionista: una ideología del progreso,” in La Argentina del ochenta al centenario, ed. Gustavo Ferrari and Ezequiel Gallo (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1980), 785-818; Julio Orione and Fernando A. Rocchi, “El Darwinismo en la Argentina,” Todo es Historia 226 (Apr. 1986), 8-28.


Gustave Le Bon, The Psychology of Peoples (London: Unwin, 1899), trans. of Les lois psychologiques de l’evolution des peuples (Paris, 1894). Quotations from pp. 138-52. Hale makes the claim for the significance of Le Bon’s work in “Political and Social Ideas,” 398.


Lucas Ayarragaray, La anarquía argentina y el caudillismo (Buenos Aires: F. Lajouane, 1904), 2, 276; “La constitución etnica argentina y sus problemas,” Archivos de Psiquiatría y Criminología (hereafter Archivos . . ..) (1912), 22-42, also published in book form (Buenos Aires: Lajouane, 1910); “La mestización de las razas en América y sus consecuencias degenerativas,” Revista de Filosofía 2:1 (1916), 21–41.


Carlos Octavio Bunge, Nuestra América. Ensayo de psicología social (Buenos Aires: Vaccaro, 1918), 157-63. Gabriel Carrasco, in Segundo Censo de la República Argentina (Buenos Aires, 1898), II, xlv, xlviii. Albert B. Martínez and Maurice Lewandowski, The Argentine in the Twentieth Century (London: Unwin, 1911), 65.


Joaquín V. González, “El juicio del siglo,” La Nación, May 25, 1910, p. 13, and “El censo nacional y la constitución,” sec. 10: “El problema de las razas,” Obras completas de Joaquín V. González (hereafter OCJVG), 25 vols. (Buenos Aires: Imprenta Mercantil, 1935), XI, 392-97.


Estanislao Zeballos, The Rise and Growth of the Argentine Constitution, lecture to the St. Andrew’s Debating Society, Buenos Aires, Sept. 29, 1906, published as a pamphlet (Buenos Aires: Albion Printing Press, 1906), 29.


Buenos Aires Herald, Apr. 20, 1906; F. Harford to Sir Edward Grey, Apr. 20, 1906, London: Public Record Office (hereafter PRO), FO 371/5. W. Haggard to Sir Edward Grey, Dec. 16, 1906, PRO, FO 371/194.


I am indebted to Nancy Stepan for calling my attention to this paradox.


“A human race cannot be genuinely improved by its fusion with an already improved race, as if it were cattle, but by the betterment of its own ideas, sentiments, and customs. . . .” Agustín Alvarez, La transformación de las razas en América (Barcelona: Granada, 1906), 153, 156.


Carlos Pellegrini, Introduction to Martínez and Lewandowski, The Argentine in the Twentieth Century, xliii–xliv. The source used by Le Bon that irritated Pellegrini so much was Theodore Child, The Spanish American Republics (New York: Harper, 1891), trans. of Les républiques hispano-americaines (Paris, 1891).


Pellegrini, Introduction, li–lii.


Palacios’ speech is recorded in the Diario de sesiones de la Cámara de Diputados (hereafter DSCD), 1904, I, 465. Juan B. Justo, Teoría y práctica de la historia, 1st ed. (Buenos Aires: Lotito y Barberis, 1909; 2nd ed. 1915), 13-52. Augusto Bunge, “Los fundamentos biológicos de la moral,” Revista de Filosofía 1:2 (1915), 69-83; idem., El culto de la vida (Buenos Aires: Perrotti, 1915), 171–72.


“. . . determinism denies liberty, biology denies equality, and the principle of the struggle for life, ruling all living beings, denies fraternity.” José Ingenieros, La legislation du travail dans la république argentine (Paris: Cornély, 1906), x, emphasis added. See also Ricaurte Soler, El positivismo argentino (Buenos Aires: Paidós, 1968), 167-97.


Ingenieros, “La formación de una raza argentina,” Revista de Filosofía 1:2 (1915), 464–83. On the idea of a distinct “Argentine race,” see also Wenceslao Tello, “La raza argentina, Atlántida 8 (1912), 37-40, and Norberto Piñero, “Nacionalismo y raza,” Revista Argentina de Ciencias Políticas 4 (1912), 261-64.


The Briton is N. L. Watson, The Argentine as a Market (Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press, 1908), 12-15, emphasis added. On Italians and Jews, cf. Tulio Halperín-Donghi, “¿Para qué la inmigración? Ideología y política inmigratoria y aceleración del proceso modernizador: el caso argentino (1810-1914),” Jahrbuch für Geschichte von Staat, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft lateinamerikas 13 (1976), 468-72; and Gladys Onega, La inmigración en la literatura argentina (Buenos Aires, 1979). On Latin “criminal tendencies,” see Julia Kirk Blackwelder and Lyman L. Johnson, “Changing Criminal Patterns in Buenos Aires, 1890-1914,” Journal of Latin American Studies 14:2 (Nov. 1982), 359–80.


Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man (New York: Norton, 1981), 122–42; John A. Davis, Conflict and Control: Law and Order in Nineteenth-Century Italy (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1988), 326-38.


Cf. Enrique Marí, “El marco jurídico,” in El movimiento positivista argentino, ed. H. Biagini (Buenos Aires: Editorial Belgrano, 1985), 186-87.


Archivos . . . (1907), 257-63.


“Spirits marked by a fatal hereditary pathology or suffering the inexorable deterioration of their miserable environment.” José Ingenieros, Prólogo to Eusebio Gómez, La mala vida en Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires: Editorial Roldan, 1908), 5-15.


On the European assassinations, see Daniel Pick, “The Faces of Anarchy: Lombroso and the Politics of Criminal Science in Post-Unification Italy,” History Workshop 21 (Spring 1986), 68. Quotations from Francisco de Veyga in “Anarquismo y anarquistas; estudio de antropología criminal,” Anales del Departamento Nacional de Higiene 20 (Sept. 1897), 437-55; “Delito político: el anarquista Salvador Planas Virella que atentó contra la vida del Presidente Dr. Manuel Quintana el 11 de agosto de 1905. Estudio médico-legal,” Archivos . . . (1906), 513-48; and C. Bernaldo de Quirós, “Psicología del crimen anarquista,” Archivos . . . Usue). 122-26. On physical features, “Documentos: autopsia del anarquista Mateo Morral (médicos forenses del Cuerpo Consultivo de Madrid),” Archivos . . . (1907), 108-9. On Radowitzky, see “Alegato del Agente Fiscal, Dr. Manuel Beltrán, en Radovizky, Simón. Por homicidio en las personas de Ramón L. Falcón y Alberto Lartigau. Dic. 31, 1909.” Buenos Aires, Archivo General de la Nación, Tribunal Criminal, leg. no. 5, 1872–1909, p. 172.


For the ideas of other members of the Italian school, see Francis A. Allen, “Raffaele Garofalo, and Thorsten Sellin, “Enrico Ferri,” both in Pioneers in Criminology, ed. Hermann Mannheim (London: Stevens, 1960). For a comparison of the Italian and French schools of criminology and an account of their confrontations, see Nye, Crime, Madness, and Politics, and Ruth Harris, Murders and Madness: Medicine, Law, and Society in the Fin de Siècle (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1989), 80-124. Napoleone Colajanni’s essay is titled “Raza y delito,” Criminalogía Moderna 12 (Oct. 1899), 350-53. Colajanni had argued in Italy against the correlation between crime and physical degeneracy established by other members of the school. Cf. Davis, Conflict and Control, 337. In this article, Colajanni quoted the French anthropologist Paul Topinard as one of his sources, showing the growing influence of the French approach within the Italian school.


On the immigration-crime connection, see C. Moyano Gacitúa, “La delincuencia argentina ante algunas cifras y teorías,” Archivos . . . (1905), 162-81; Gómez, La mala vida, 29–30; Miguel A. Lancelotti, “La criminalidad en Buenos Aires 1885 a 1910. Al márgen de la estadística,” Revista Argentina de Ciencias Políticas 4 (1912). See also Carl Solberg, “Immigration and Urban Social Problems in Argentina and Chile, 1890–1914,” HAHR 49:2 (May 1969), 221. On economic and other factors, cf. Lancelotti, “El factor económico en la producción del delito,” Criminalogía Moderna 16 (Feb. 1900), 495–500; Moyano Gacitúa, “Las influencias mesológicas en la criminalidad argentina,” Archivos . . . (1906), 487–99. On heredity, see Lancelotti, “La herencia en la criminalidad,” Revista Nacional 25 (1898), 401-2, and 26 (1898), 375; Ricardo del Campo, “La herencia del delito,” Criminalogía Moderna 13-14 (1899). On immigration control, see Moyano Gacitúa, “La delincuencia argentina,” 178; E. de Cires, “La inmigración en Buenos Aires,” Revista Argentina de Ciencias Políticas 4 (1912), 735-46; Francisco Stach, “La defensa social y la inmigración,” Boletín del Museo Social Argentino 5:55-56 (1916), 361-89. Fernando Ortiz, “La inmigración desde el punto de vista criminológico,” Archivos . . . (1907), 332-40. On Fernando Ortiz and racial and criminological ideas in Cuba, see Aline Helg, “Race in Argentina and Cuba, 1880-1930: Theory, Policies, and Popular Reaction,” in Graham, Idea of Race in Latin America, 52-53. For similar arguments about the superiority of the white race in human evolution by an Argentine writer, see Ramón Melgar, “El tipo vencedor en la especie humana,” Revista de Filosofía 1:1 (1915), 431-41.


Carlos Urien and Ezio Colombo, La república argentina en 1910, 2 vols. (Buenos Aires: Maucci, 1910), I, 180–81; Sandra McGee Deutsch, “The Argentine Right and the Jews, 1919-1933,” Journal of Latin American Studies 18:1 (May 1986), 113-34.


R. Tower to Sir Edward Grey, Feb. 9, 1912., PRO, FO 118/308.


Tercer Censo Nacional, I, p. 123.


Lucas Ayarragaray, “Socialismo argentino y legislación obrera (1912),” in Cuestiones y problemas argentinos contemporáneos, 2 vols. (Buenos Aires: L. J. Rosso, 1937), I, 30. DSCD, 1910, I, 60.


Memoria del Ministerio de Agricultura Noviembre 1907–Abril 1910 (Buenos Aires, 1910), 185-89. On the exclusion of beggars cf. “Orden del Día 4 de Abril de 1896,” Ordenanzas generales de la policía de Buenos Aires 1880-1907 (Capital Federal, 1908), 204.


These laws were passed during peaks of anarchist activism, and their goal was the exclusion of anarchists, not of immigrants on racial motives, although the language of race continued to be present in the analysis of anarchists as biologically degenerated. On the Ley de Residencia cf. Iaacov Oved, “El trasfondo histórico de la ley 4144 de residencia,” Desarrollo Económico 61 (1976), 123-50; Carlos Sánchez Viamonte, Biografía de una ley antiargentina. La ley 4144 (Buenos Aires: Nuevas Ediciones Argentinas, 1956), 17-63. Argentina had subscribed to international agreements in 1894 with Italy, and in 1902 with the United States and 15 other Latin American nations, to promote cooperation in the repression of anarchism.


José D. Bianchi, “Cuestión social,” La escuela positiva (1899), quoted by Leopoldo Zea, The Latin American Mind (Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1963), 227.


Federico Figueroa, Las huelgas en la república argentina y el modo de combatirlas (Buenos Aires: J. Tragant, 1906), 244-45.


Ernest A. Crider, “Modernization and Human Welfare: The Asistencia Pública and Buenos Aires, 1883-1910” (Ph.D. diss., Ohio State University, 1976), 26–90; Carlos Escudé, Health in Buenos Aires in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century,” in Social Welfare, 1850-1950: Australia, Argentina, and Canada Compared, ed. D.C.M. Platt (London: Macmillan, 1989), 60-70. For the evolution of public hygiene legislation during the period see also Nicolás Lozano, “La higiene pública en la Argentina,” Anales del Departamento Nacional de Higiene 20 (1913), 991-1079. On Wilde and Coni see Hector Recalde, Higiene pública y secularización (Buenos Aires: Centro Editorial de América Latina, 1989), 17.


Augusto Bunge, “El trabajo industrial en Buenos Aires,” Anales del Departamento Nacional de Higiene 11 (1904), 339-64, 387-410, 435-50; “La sección de higiene social. Sus objectivos y sus primeros resultados,” Anales del Departamento Nacional de Higiene 18:1 (1911), 99-116. The Socialist party actively campaigned against alcoholism. Cf. “El alcoholismo,” La Vanguardia, Sept. 2, 1910; Donald F. Weinstein, Juan B. Justo y su época (Buenos Aires: Fundación Juan B. Justo, 1978), 99.


Augusto Bunge, “El alcoholismo y sus proyecciones sociales,” Archivos . . . (1905), 667–94. For examples of the campaign against alcoholism mounted by hygienists and criminologists see also Miguel A. Lancelotti, “Alcoholismo y delito. (Contribución al estudio de las causas de la delincuencia),” Archivos . . . (1910), 415-45; Víctor Delfino, “Alcoholismo y descendencia,” Revista de Criminología 2 (1915), 579-84; Belisario J. Montero, “Notas para la lucha contra el alcoholismo,” Archivos . . . (1905), 594-99; Germán Anschutz, “Breve contribución a la lucha contra el alcoholismo en la república argentina,” Anales del Departamentó Nacional de Higiene 20 (1913), 909-21; Alfredo L. Palacios, “Medios e instituciones adecuadas para combatir el alcoholismo,” Revista de Criminología 1 (1914), 334-41.


Pellegrini 1846-1906. Obras. 5 vols., ed. A. Rivero Astengo (Buenos Aires, 1941), II, 601. Belisario Roldán, “Accidentes de Trabajo,” in Discursos Completos (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sopena Argentina, 1929), 77.


Elvira V. López, “La mujer y la enseñanza industrial,” Estudios 1 (1901), 390-99; Enrique Feinman, “Medicina social. La defensa de la maternidad obrera y la legislación argentina,” Revista Argentina de Ciencias Políticas 11 (1915), 449-58.


DSCD 1906, I, 803-9.


DSCD 1904, II, 476-616, and José Pannettieri, Las primeras leyes obreras (Buenos Aires: Centro Editorial de América Latina, 1984), 29. DSCD 1915, I, 515. On military service, see R. E. Cranwell, “El servicio militar obligatorio,” Estudios 1 (1901), 69-78.


Manuel Ugarte, El porvenir de la América Latina (Valencia: F. Sempere, 1910), 278-79: 280–81; 286-87; also idem., “Cuestión social y cuestión nacional (1912),” in La nación latinoamericana, ed. Norberto Galasso (Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1978), 199-202.


Stepan, Idea of Race in Science, 121.


By 1931, 30 states had at some time passed sterilization laws. Kenneth M. Ludmerer, Genetics and American Society: A Historical Appraisal (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1972), 87. On North American eugenics see also Mark Haller, Eugenics: Hereditarian Attitudes in American Thought (New Brunswick: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1963), and Daniel J. Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity (New York: Knopf, 1985). On the societies, Nancy Stepan, Hour of Eugenics, chap. 2.


The theory was justified by Aurelio Ruiz, “Neo-malthusianismo,” La Protesta, Jan. 11, 1907; opposed in La Protesta, Jan. 16, 1907; defended by Manuel M. Boyant, “Es admisible el neo-malthusianismo como precipitante de la transformación social?” La Protesta, Jan. 12, 1909, and Juan Biere, “Malthus o neo-Malthus?” La Protesta, Mar. 28, 1909; and praised in “Palinodia eterna,” El Rebelde, Jan. 1, 1907. See also Elvira V. López, “Eugenismo,” Boletín del Museo Social Argentina 21 (1913), 313-23.


Angelo Zucarelli, “Necesidad y medios de impedir la reproducción de los degenerados,” Archivos . . . (1902), 227-34. Also, the review of A. Peñaloza, Prevención eugénica de la criminalidad en el Perú (Lima, 1916), in Revista de Criminalogía (1916), 750.


On criminal types as an “infection,” see Juan Angel Martínez, “Encuesta sobre organización de la justicia penal,” Criminología Moderna 20 (1900), 614-16. On the right to integrity, Benjamín T. Solari, “La defensa de la raza por la castración de los degenerados. Las ideas profilácticas de Zucarelli,” Archives . . . (1902), 285-391. For the Catholic view, Emilio Lamarca, “La liga social argentina,” La Semana, Nov. 14, 1909, pp. 8-10. For the supporters’ retort, José G. Angulo, “La nueva ciencia eugénica y la esterilización de los degenerados,” Archives . . . (1912), 623-25. Also, E. Claparéde, “La protección de los degenerados y la eugenética,” Revista de Criminalogía (1915), 456-65; Ramón Melgar, “El tipo vencedor en la especie humana,” Revista de Filosofía 1 (1915), 441.


Manuel Sallés y Ferré, “Origen y causa del pauperismo,” Archivos . . . (1911), 541-54·


Paulina Luisi, Sobre eugenia,” Revista de Filosofía 2 (1916), 435—51. On “matrimonial eugenics, see Nancy Stepan, Hour of Eugenics, chap. 4.


Cf. “Residencia de extranjeros,” OCJVG V, 177-85; “La cuestión social argentina,” OCJVG XIII, 463–66; “Proyecto de ley nacional del trabajo,” OCJVG VI, 327-31.


On Mabilleau and the French Musée Social cf. Sanford Elwitt, “Social Reform and Social Order in Late Nineteenth-Century France: The Musée Social and Its Friends,” French Historical Studies 11:3 (Spring 1980), 431-51.


“Cooperatión, mutualidad y eugénica social,” OCJVG XV, 429-34.


“El censo nacional y la constitutión,” sec. 10, “El problema de las razas,” OCJVG XI, 392-97. Also, “El censo y la representación política,” OCJVG XI, 443-45.


On education, see Bosquejo de conferencia “La escuela científica y la selección social. Educación y eugénica,” OCJVG XXII, 409-26. “Patria y democracia,” OCJVG XI, 636—37. The bibliography cited by González in this work indicates his continuing interest in eugenics: W.C.D. and C. D. Whetam, An Introduction to Eugenics (London: Bowes & Bowes, 1912); H.G.F. Spurrell, Patriotism, a Biological Study (London: G. Bell, 1911); “Race Improvement in the U.S.,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (1919), among others.


The institutions, and the scientific and ideological currents within them, are extensively analyzed by Nancy Stepan in her Hour of Eugenics. On the legislation, cf. José León Suárez, “Eugénica. Necesidad de su enseñanza y divulgación,” Revista de Ciencias Económicas, ser. 2, 88 (Nov. 1928), 2506-32, and 89 (Dec. 1929), 2607-24; H. Vezzetti, “El discurso psiquiátrico,” in El movimiento positioista argentine, ed. H. Biagini (Buenos Aires: Editorial de Belgrano, 1985), 372; Orione and Rocchi, “El darwinismo en la Argentina,” 20.


On the proportion of minorities, see George Reid Andrews, “Race versus Class Association: The Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aires, 1850-1900,” Journal of Latin American Studies 11:1 (1979), 19-39. On the “artifactual” aspect of racial categories, see Nancy Stepan, Hour of Eugenics, xiv–xix.