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The Australian National University

What was eugenics and why does it still matter?

Professor Philippa Levine, University of Texas at Austin

In the early twentieth century research on intelligence, hereditary disease, behaviours regarded as anti-social, family life and reproductive controls all took shape in the shadow of eugenics, a movement which claimed to apply the science of heredity to encourage healthy reproduction and to discourage unhealthy reproduction. The results were far more striking for their massive inequalities than for their success in population control.  Across the world, including in Australia, marginalised peoples were discouraged from reproducing, and in some cases forcibly prevented from doing so. But while the term eugenics has disappeared from our vocabulary, do contemporary reprogenetic policies share anything with this earlier programme?

» podcast (mp3, 49.69MB)

Sponsored by the School of History and the Australian Centre for Indigenous History and the ANU Gender Institute.

Updated:  7 November 2012/Responsible Officer:  Convenor, Gender Institute/Page Contact:  Web manager, Gender Institute