Owner: Phototypie Riche et Co., Paris
Source Type: Images
The Manicomio Pacheco, photographed here in 1897, was Bolivia's first mental hospital and a site at which Bolivian psychiatrists attempted to formulate eugenic policies that would improve the country emotionally as well as socially. Built in 1888, the manicomio (asylum) was meant primarily to isolate the insane from the rest of the population; 59% of patients received no treatment whatsoever for their conditions while others were subjected to such "cures" as insulin, camphor, and electroshock therapy. The manicomio's director in the early 1940s, Emilio Fernandez, promoted mental hygiene measures at a national level, including fighting poverty, that would ensure mothers and children would be free from mental illness. He thought that improving the environment and mental health of women and children through state intervention would improve the Bolivian race as a whole, a form of "preventative" eugenics typical in the rest of Latin America until the late 1920s.
Nevertheless, Fernandez favored some "harder" eugenic measures, including state prevention of marriages among those deemed too young or old because such unions were considered likely to produce insane children. Other Bolivian doctors favored far harsher measures, including the sterilization of criminals, the insane, and alcoholics, and even selective euthanasia for the least able-minded residents of the manicomio. The work of all of these would be eugenicists was geared largely against women, blaming mental illness and various social problems on maternal immorality and neglect. Fernandez and others considered traditional gender roles, especially domestic motherhood, necessary to the mental and emotional health of individual children and the Bolivian nation.
Reference: Zulawski, Ann. Unequal Cures: Public Health and Political Change in Bolivia, 1900-1950. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007.
CITATION: The Manicomio Pacheco, circa 1897. Argandona, Francisco, ed. Sucre, Capital de Bolivia, 1897. Paris: Phototypie Riche et Co., 1897. In: Zulawski, Ann. Unequal Cures: Public Health and Political Change in Bolivia, 1900-1950. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007, pp. 161.
DIGITAL ID: 12987