Ethics. Research. Community.

Eugenics, politics and the state: social democracy and the Swiss 'gardening state'.

Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences. 
39
(2): 
263-269; 
2008. 
(English). 
[Record Source: PubMed]
This article explores the connections between eugenics, politics and the state, taking the Swiss case as a particular focus. It is argued that Switzerland provides a historical example of what Bauman [Bauman, Z. (1989). Modernity and the Holocaust. Cambridge: Polity Press.] describes as 'gardening states': states that are concerned with eliminating the 'bad weeds' from the national garden and thereby constructing sharply exclusionary national identities. The Swiss experiments with eugenics (1920s-1960s) can be seen as an example of an ongoing struggle against 'difference'. Against this backdrop I will examine, first, the ways in which state regulation of reproductive sexuality, and other eugenic measures, became central mechanisms for dealing with cultural and other 'differences' in the Swiss nation. Second, I will analyse the gendered nature of such mechanisms, as well as the preoccupation with racial 'difference' exemplified by eugenic policies towards 'Gypsies'. To conclude, I will examine the impact of political institutions and political ideology, in particular, social democracy, on these eugenic gardening efforts.
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Database Keywords

Detailed Record Information

Record TypeJournal Article
Record Source Status
[MEDLINE]
FormatsPrint-Electronic
DOI10.1016/j.shpsc.2008.03.010
ISSN1369-8486