Ashley Kerr Publishes Book on Gender and Race in Argentina
April 06, 2020
“Sex, Skulls, and Citizens: Gender and Racial Science in Argentina (1860-1910)” by Ashley Kerr, assistant professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, has been published by Vanderbilt University Press. Kerr’s work argues that indigenous and creole women played a fundamental role in the development of Argentine racial science and its application to efforts to control indigenous populations as the nation modernized and expanded.
Although they were not scientists themselves, women — and particularly their bodies — are everywhere in texts written by men such as Estanislao Zeballos, Lucio Mansilla and Ramón Lista. The scientists viewed indigenous women as subjects to be studied, informants, mediators and sexual partners.
Indigenous and creole women also had an important symbolic function, as male elites expressed concern about interracial sex and reproduction in public speeches, academic texts and fiction. Through science, policy and literature, sex and gender moderated Argentine creole-indigenous relations in the late 19th century and far into the future.
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