Bunge, Augusto (1877–1948)

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Bunge, Augusto (1877–1948)

Augusto Bunge (b. 25 April 1877; d. 1 August 1948), Argentine hygienist and politician. After graduating with honors from the Medical School of the University of Buenos Aires in 1900, Bunge specialized in public health and in 1906 was sent to Europe by the national government to study the organization of public health and safety measures in factories and workshops. He was put in charge of the Industrial and Public Health Section of the National Department of Public Health, where he launched a campaign for the improvement of working conditions in local industries, as can be seen in his Las conquistas de la higiene social (1910–1911). He was a founder and member of the Independent Socialist Party (PSI) and was elected to Congress for five consecutive terms in 1916, 1920, 1924, 1928, and 1932. In Congress, he actively promoted social and labor legislation, drafting in 1917 a detailed system of social insurance based on the German and British models.

Bunge's thought was representative of the fusion of biological and social ideas with a strong racialist component that characterized much of the intellectual life of turn-of-the-century Latin America. In several works he argued for a biological foundation of human ethics, and he was a firm believer in the anthropological and moral inferiority of nonwhite races to Caucasians, as stated in his book El culto de la vida (1915).

See alsoArgentina, Political Parties: Independent Socialist Party; Public Health.


On Bunge's activities as a socialist leader, see Richard J. Walter, The Socialist Party of Argentina, 1890–1930 (1977) and Horacio Sanguinetti, Los Socialistas Independientes (1981). On Bunge's work in public health, see Héctor Recalde, La higiene y el trabajo, 2 vols. (1988); on the intellectual background, see Eduardo A. Zimmermann, "Racial Ideas and Social Reform: Argentina, 1890–1916," in Hispanic American Historical Review 72, no. 1 (February 1992): 23-46.

Additional Bibliography

Barrancos, Dora. La escena iluminada: Ciencias para trabajadores, 1890–1930. Buenos Aires: Plus Ultra, 1996.

                              Eduardo A. Zimmermann