Jefferson B, Fourth Floor 03 Nov 2018 Contributed Papers Session
Historiography 16:00 - 18:00

Ricardo Flores Magón, a Mexican Anarchist and Revolutionist: From Biology to Society in Periodical Press
16:00 - 16:40

The history of biology in Mexico has focused largely on showing the impact that theories like Charles Darwin's had during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Recently, there has been an attempt to broaden the scope of this research by highlighting the impact of other visions such as those like Herbert Spencer's - fundamental in Mexican education and politics - and Francis Galton's - of importance in the institutionalization of eugenics in Mexico. However, an issue that has not been addressed is that of anarchism, which has taken up biological/evolutionary proposals (from authors such as Herbert Spencer himself, Piotr Kropotkin, among others) to found a basis for a revolutionary discourse that sought an authentic change in Mexican society. Another example, the French geographer Élisée Reclus, who maintained that "Science did not establish any difference between the words of evolution and revolution", both of which reflected, according to Reclus, in a continuous way, the infinite movement of transformation of the universe, of nature, of life, of species, of society, an interpretation shared by other authors, which Flores Magón brought together in the so-called Sociological Library of Regeneration.

We want to focus this paper on the discourses that appeared in the anarchist newspaper Regeneración (Regeneration), which was edited by the Mexican revolutionary Ricardo Flores Magón. Through various examples, we want to show the influence of the biological/evolutionary theories that served Flores Magón to articulate a revolutionary discourse that distinguished itself from others by seeking authentic social change, based on biological change.

Building a Catholic Science: Scientific Strategies and Uses on the Italian Clerical Press in the Age of Positivism (1848-1914)
16:40 - 17:20

The paper deals with the attitudes toward, the uses and the receptions of the science on the Italian Catholic press in the second half the 19th Century. In the course of the nineteenth century and particularly in the second half of the century, science started having a growing influence on Italy’s society and culture, hence threatening the authority and the influence of the Church and of Catholicism in Italy, which was in turn already under pressure because of the slow but gradual secularization. The centrality of science in the nineteenth century, moreover, put Catholics up against the question on how to react and face modernity, which had its strength in science and in the positive method, thus safeguarding the role of the Church and orthodoxy. Hence the spreading in some sectors of the catholic movement, especially in some clerical periodicals, of the need to build a science in accordance with Revelation, with the idea of developing strategies to embrace scientific matters through a Christian perspective, to respond to the lay and positivist materialistic theories of scientists, to strengthen a Catholic public opinion also in the sciences, and to strive for a scientific popularization harmonised with faith. The paper analyses how the science was faced and used by the Italian Catholic press, focusing in particular on three main topics: the evolution, the technological progress, and the medicine and its relationship with sanctity, miracles and supernatural.

Transnational Knowledge of Scientific Conceptions of Race and their Impact on Pictorial Representations of Homo sapiens in Mexico
17:20 - 18:00

For some years, the field of STS has focused on the need to write transnational connected narratives, based on a reciprocal treatment of global and local contexts that describe the dynamics of scientific practices to explain the role of transnational exchange networks and the circulation of scientific knowledge, people, artifacts and practices.

This talk explores on the one hand, the genesis of scientific conceptions of race in Mexico and their accompanying impact on the racialization of bodies in eighteenth century and on the representation of Homo sapiens in nineteenth century. Both, the racialization of bodies and the reconstruction of human ancestry produced several visual representations which circulated in both a local and a global framework. This circulation of novel representational modes strongly influenced debates on race and national identity formation, especially during the nineteenth century when the term “mestizo” powerfully appeared in the political discourse as a symbol of identity in the formation of the Mexican Nation State and as a homogenizing center of national identity.


On the other hand, I will talk about some representational practices related to the reconstruction of human ancestry in Mexican popular visual culture. Its aim is to show first, the lasting impact and power that both early and biased western visualizations of human ancestry have had in contemporary scientific education in Mexico; and second, the influence of non-Darwinian thinking of early twentieth century in Mexican representation of evolutionary theory. This in turn seeks to enlighten the global dynamics that shaped and reshaped local narratives.


Independent Researcher
National University of Mexico
National Autonomous University of Mexico
National Autonomous University of Mexico
Academia Sinica, Taiwan


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