Puericulture: “cultivating” fitter citizens

Luciana Costa Lima Thomaz


The aim of the present paper is to examine the formulation and practice of puericulture, within the context of eugenic ideas developed in France between the late 19th century and the middle of the next century. Through a phase of depopulation during this period, coupled with the spread of so-called social plagues (tuberculosis, venereal diseases, and alcoholism), which would lead to a "biological degradation", the French government took a series of measures, known collectively as "social hygiene”. This is the context in which Adolphe Pinard (1844-1934) improved the studies devoted to maternal health care, child care ("cultivation of childrenʺ), with the aim of encouraging repopulation in quantitative and qualitative terms.

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