The Religion of Life

Eugenics, Race, and Catholicism in Chile

There is no doubt that Walsh's book is a big contribution and its publication is fully justified since it fills a gap in Chilean historiography and opens spaces for future research. For those interested in Chilean history, inside and outside the country, this is a text that makes a valuable contribution to the history of Chile in the twentieth century.
Journal of Latin American Studies

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The Religion of Life examines the interconnections and relationship between Catholicism and eugenics in early twentieth-century Chile. Specifically, it demonstrates that the popularity of eugenic science was not diminished by the influence of Catholicism there. In fact, both eugenics and Catholicism worked together to construct the concept of a unique Chilean race, la raza chilena. A major factor that facilitated this conceptual overlap was a generalized belief among historical actors that male and female gender roles were biologically determined and therefore essential to a functioning society. As the first English-language study of eugenics in Chile, The Religion of Life surveys a wide variety of different materials (periodicals, newspapers, medical theses, and monographs) produced by Catholic and secular intellectuals from the first half of the twentieth century. What emerges from this examination is not only a more complex rendering of the relationship between religion and science but also the development of White supremacist logics in a Latin American context.

238 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

January, 2022

isbn : 9780822946649

about the author

Sarah Walsh

Sarah Walsh is the Hansen Lecturer in Global History at the University of Melbourne. She specializes in the history of the human sciences in Latin America with an emphasis on race and ethnicity.

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Sarah Walsh