The Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History (OCMCH)

Promoting historic links between Oxford Brookes University and the Methodist Church through archives, artworks, publications and research.

Fellows – Dr Emmanuel Betta, Visiting Research Fellow 2016/2017

EBetta

Dr Emmanuel Betta, associate professor at the University of Rome, Sapienza – OCMCH visiting research fellow 2016/2017

The aim of my research is to develop the history of Catholic biopolitics, meaning the creation of a doctrine of the Catholic Church concerning the ways in which the different aspects of life are governed. From the mid nineteenth century to 1930, the Congregation of the Roman Inquisition, which had a decisive role in the definition of orthodoxy of Catholic discourse, started to create rules on topics concerning the control of life and body. From the forties onwards it focused on magnetism and hypnosis, birth control methods, surgical-obstetrical therapies for high-risk pregnancies, cremation of the bodies of dead people, human artificial procreation, whereas from the first years of the twentieth century it started to deal with sterilization and eugenics. These topics all had in common the body, and above all the fact that they were the product of a secularized view of the body itself, of life and death. These elements were no longer conceived and governed starting from a religious and Catholic semantics, but they were increasingly interpreted as starting from biomedical knowledge and perspectives.

I’m particularly interested in this change and in the way in which the Catholic Church reacted to the loss of control over the production of the semantics for the government of the body and the health. This interest has pushed me in the last ten years to examine specific aspects of this articulated disciplinary process, from the therapeutic interruption of pregnancy and the artificial insemination, to which I dedicated my first two books, to my last article focused on the discourse concerning birth control, in which emerged a relevant role of the English case for the inquisitorial disciplinary decisions. During my Visiting Fellowship I will work on the interplay between national case, in particular the English one, and this disciplinary process, with particular attention to the reception of the Inquisitorial documents in the medical and religious journals and to the analysis of the role of English Catholics in the eugenics discussions.

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This entry was posted on August 8, 2016 by and tagged , .

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