The Path of Eugenics in Brazil: Dilemmas of Miscegenation

Gilberto Hochman, Nísia Trindade Lima and Marcos Chor Maio

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780195373141
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Path of Eugenics in Brazil: Dilemmas of Miscegenation


This article deals with the diffusion of eugenics in Brazil that occurred in the context of the social and economic problems associated with widespread infectious and parasitic diseases, and are often regarded as a serious obstacle to Brazil's successful transformation into a nation. It explains that Brazilian eugenics has brought together a wide range of professionals—physicians, journalists, and lawyers—and involves a series of different and sometimes contradictory responses to local challenges of national identity. It proceeds with the discussion of racial theories and Brazilian dilemmas at the end of nineteenth century and formulates the matrix for reflection on the possibilities of a civilized country. The strong association between eugenics and hygiene, with its emphasis on intervention in the environment and the regulation of, among other practices, alcoholism and sexual behavior is also addressed. This article presents eugenics as a heterogeneous intellectual and political movement and examines the national and the racial question.

Keywords: eugenics; Brazil; dilemmas; racial theories; nineteenth century

Article.  8687 words. 

Subjects: History ; History of the Americas

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