Files in this item



application/pdf9712209.pdf (17MB)Restricted to U of Illinois
(no description provided)PDF


Title:Disciplining the future. Eugenics and modernization in interwar Romania
Author(s):Bucur, Maria
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hitchins, Keith
Department / Program:History, European
History, Modern
History of Science
Discipline:History, European
History, Modern
History of Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, European
History, Modern
History of Science
Abstract:Eugenics, the ideology of controlling the quality and quantity of the human species found many adepts in Romania during the interwar period. They brought to life their various interpretations of eugenics in many embodiments, from programs for physical education and better nutrition, to movements to segregate and even eliminate Jews and other "dysgenic" populations, such as criminals and prostitutes. Proponents of eugenics used their significant roles in public life to popularize theories of hereditary determinism in the realms of intellectual discourse and social reform. They offered a path towards modernization which would conserve vital elements of the past while embracing the future. Their synthesis of tradition and modernization helped negotiate the apparently irreconcilable debates during the interwar period between traditionalist conservatives and their opponents--the Europeanizing modernists.
Regardless of their various political alliances, which sometimes were prompted by sheer pragmatism rather than strong ideological convictions, eugenicists played an important, if unrecognized role in delegitimizing liberal parliamentary ideas, especially among the educated public and students in higher education institutions. Eugenicists used the language of science and objectivity to delegitimize the principles of liberty and democracy, by portraying these concepts as anti-rational, for they presumably ran against the universal law of heredity, differentiation and evolution. According to eugenicists, to claim individual autonomy over one's actions meant acting irresponsibly, for it showed complete disregard for the hereditary factors that conditioned each individual's development and behavior. Furthermore, democracy seemed a dangerous practice, for it allowed the mediocre to impose their will over the superior, and thus ran counter the principle of evolution through controlled selection. Instead, eugenicists depicted progress as a function of responsible action by a leadership selected from the hereditary elites. This phenomenon helps explain the attraction of many among the young generation during the early 1930s towards anti-liberal politics.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Bucur, Maria
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712209
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712209

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Item Statistics