© Nara Milanich

 

For millennia, uncertain paternity seemed an immutable law of nature. But in the 1920s new scientific advances promised to solve the mystery. The stakes of these new technologies were incalculable, for paternity has always been a public relationship as well as a private one, conferring child support, patrimony, a name, nationality, and identity. Yet even as science promised to discover the father, it revealed the social, cultural, and political nature of paternity and inadvertently challenged the very idea of paternal truth. Who’s your daddy? In the age of modern genetics, the answer is as uncertain as ever.

In modern Latin America, profound social inequalities have persisted despite the promise of equality. Children of Fate argues that social and legal practices surrounding family and kinship have helped produce and sustain these inequalities. Through vivid stories culled from judicial and notarial sources and from documents found in the closet of a Santiago orphanage, it demonstrates how the study of children can illuminate the social organization of gender and class, liberalism, law, and state power in modern Latin America.  

Co-edited with Elizabeth Quay Hutchison, Thomas Klubock, and Peter Winn, The Chile Reader tells five centuries of Chilean history through a diverse array of voices, including those of Mapuche Indians and Spanish colonists, peasants and aristocrats, feminists and military strongmen, entrepreneurs and workers, priests and poets. It illuminates such themes as the relationship of geography to national identity, bold experiments with reform and revolution, Cold War authoritarianism, and the perennial challenges of modernization and social inequality.