Title

“Citizens Useful to Their Country and to Humanity”: The Convergence of Eugenics and Pro-Natalism in Interwar French Politics, 1918–1940

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2016

Journal

Canadian Bulletin of Medical History

Volume

29

Volume

2

First Page

373

Last Page

397

URL with Digital Object Identifier

10.3138/cbmh.29.2.373

Abstract

Interwar France witnessed a convergence of two ostensibly diametrically opposed phenomena: eugenics and pro-natalism. In the 1930s in particular, pro-natalists, desiring to raise the French birthrate, and eugenicists, pursuing racial hygiene, came together both literally and discursively, allowing them to exercise a high degree of influence on politics and policy. In this manner, although France did not conduct a campaign of sterilization as did many other countries, eugenics influenced the formation of the French welfare state nonetheless, suggesting that historians should reassess their interpretation of its origins.

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