Episode #22: Eugenics
Emma and Charlotte discuss the 19th-century pseudo-scientific invention that continues to feed racist thought, ideology and action.
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We mostly discuss eugenics as a historical phenomenon, but the ideology is still around. In January 2018, The London Student published a story by Ben Van Der Merwe about a secret eugenics conference held at University College London, which was “dominated by a secretive group of white supremacists with neo-Nazi links”. Read the whole story here. In 2015, UCL Collections curator Subhadra Das wrote about Francis Galton’s links to UCL - read her article here and follow her on Twitter @littlegaudy;
The day after we published this episode, The Guardian published a story by Angela Saini on why ‘race science’ is on the rise again - read that here, and follow Angela on Twitter @AngelaDSaini;
‘Tom Watson: how I lost seven stone and reversed my type 2 diabetes’ by Emine Saner, The Guardian, 12 September 2018;
‘Raw eggs 'safe for pregnant women'’ BBC, 25 July 2016 (so just weeks after Emma’s first kid was born then…);
Want to read more about pregnancy? Here’s ‘War in the womb: A ferocious biological struggle between mother and baby belies any sentimental ideas we might have about pregnancy’ by Suzanne Sadedin, an evolutionary biologist, published in AEON, August 2014. Sample paragraph: “It’s no accident that many of the same genes active in embryonic development have been implicated in cancer. Pregnancy is a lot more like war than we might care to admit.” Read the article here;
Victoria Bignell wrote about the Fabian Society and eugenics for the New Statesman in 2010 – read her article here;
Jonathan Hyslop is a professor of sociology and anthropology at Colgate University. His article is ‘The Imperial Working Class Makes Itself ‘White’: White Labourism in Britain, Australia, and South Africa Before the First World War’, Journal of Historical Sociology, Vol. 12, No. 4 (1999), pp. 398-421 – read it here and read more about Jonathan here;
Want to know more about Swedish eugenics? Read Mattias Tydén's chapter on 'The Scandinavian States: Reformed Eugenics Applied' in Bashford, A. & Levine, P. The Oxford Handbook of The History of Eugenics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 363-376
Eva F. Dahlgren’s book about her grandfather, Farfar var rasbiolog, was published in 2002 and hasn’t been translated into English. Yet. She has also written a brilliant book about women who were imprisoned for being (suspected) sex workers in the 1920s and 1930s in Sweden – Fallna kvinnor should definitely be translated;
‘Sweden sterilized thousands of ‘useless’ citizens for decades’ Washington Post, 29 August 1997;
Alberto Spektorowski’s article ‘The Eugenic Temptation in Socialism: Sweden, Germany, and the Soviet Union’ in Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 46, No. 1 (Jan., 2004), pp. 84-106, is also very good;
Alva and Gunnar Myrdal’s Crisis in the Population Question was published in 1934 and has its own Wikipedia entry. Alva was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982 for her work on disarmament;
Marie Stopes’ Radiant Motherhood: A Book for Those Who are Creating the Future from 1920 is available on Project Gutenberg;
Ola Larsmo’s Swede Hollow will be published in English by University of Minnesota Press in October 2019. It describes the Swedish immigrant experience in the US;
Lucy Bland’s article about children of mixed heritage parents in interwar Liverpool – ‘British eugenics and 'race-crossing': a study of an interwar investigation’ – was published in New Formations, Issue 60 (winter 2006). Issue 60 is a eugenics special – read all of it here;
Charlotte recommends Ruth Padel’s Darwin: A Life in Poems (Chatto & Windus, 2009);
Charlotte reads lines from Jane Hirschfield’s ‘My Proteins’:
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