Call for Journal Submissions on Present-day Eugenics

Present-day Eugenics

Call for papers for a monographic issue of «Contemporanea. Rivista di storia dell’800 e del ’900»

Eugenics has long been an area of particular interest for research being a complex historical phenomenon, in which science, ideologies, power and policy dynamics intertwine.

Studies have mainly focused on the eugenics’ founding stage, ranging between the nineteenth-century origins – contained in Galton’s studies and in the dynamics of the positivist and evolutionist determinism – and the totalitarian regimes of the early twentieth century that in several ways implemented eugenic policies in a dramatic way.

With the focus on national cases internal forms and differences of the eugenic movement emerged, as well as theoretical-practical diversities between the Lamarckian and Mendelian models in relation to religions and legal arrangements. The variety of cases and experiences at European and extra-European level enabled to discuss the close identification between eugenics and the Shoah, and to point out how eugenic paths have been defined also without making recourse to compulsory forms of intervention on heredity. At the same time, it enabled to discuss the relation between eugenics, birth control policies and – more in general – of the policies of healthcare intervention for the protection of the health of a national body. The relationship with the Shoah and the criminal use of medical practices in totalitarian regimes transformed 1945 in a watershed moment in the eugenics history, forcing science and political cultures to tackle totalitarian experiences and the role played by knowledge and scientists.

Various studies have recently started to study eugenics following that historical period, in order to examine the way through which – in democratic-liberal contexts characterized by egalitarian principles and human rights – eugenic practices and/or theories have found expression and have been legitimized. The relation between the possibility of care and the improvement of the living conditions of the individual and of the community, choices of individuals and collective needs and the intervention of national and supranational institutions was revived but in a scenario that was different from the one of the early nineteenth century, and also from the incredible developments achieved by preventive and genetic medicine that opened up new unthought-of possibilities of action on individuals.

Over the last decades the topic of eugenics presented itself again, intertwining with topics related to demography, birth rate, relation with migration and more in general to problems concerning public health, in a scenario strongly influenced by the movement of populations and by the development of preventive and genetic techniques applied to fertility and reproduction.

Starting from suggestions coming from most recent research, the monographic issue of «Contemporanea» aims at proposing a reflection on the forms of eugenics expressed in the second half of the twentieth century, in European and extra-European contexts, adopting a wide perspective, taking into consideration the ideological and theoretical dimensions, the relation with politics and citizenship policies, the continuity of ideas, people, structures and institutions between totalitarian and democratic contexts as well as the changes in the meaning of eugenics with regard to the developments of genetic and biomedical research.

In particular, Contemporanea is looking for proposals that deal with the topic of eugenics in the second part of XX century in relation to:

  • Ideologies
  • Institutionals networks
  • Eugenics and religion
  • Eugenics and gender
  • Eugenics, demography, birth control
  • Transnational itineraries of eugenists
  • Continuity and discontinuity between totalitarian regimes and democracy
  • Citizenship and genetics therapies

The proposals (around 500 words) accompanied by a brief CV should be sent by Februrary 22, 2017 to the editor Emmanuel Betta ( along with a CC to the editorial secretary ( The essays selected have to be delivered in their final form by July 30, 2017; all manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process (double blind). The issue will be published by summer 2018.

Contemporanea publishes contributions in Italian and English. For more information about the journal:  Contemporanea is indexed by: ISI Web of Science (Art & Humanities Citation Index), Scopus Bibliographic Database, Historical Abstracts, America: History and Life, Articoli italiani di periodici accademici (AIDA), JournalSeek, Essper, Bibliografia storica nazionale, Catalogo italiano dei periodici (ACNP), Google Scholar