The Eugenic Mind Project
352 pp., 6 x 9 in, 2 b&w illus.
- Published: February 2, 2021
- Published: December 22, 2017
- Published: December 15, 2017
An examination of eugenic thinking past and present, from forced sterilization to prenatal screening, drawing on experience with those who survived eugenics.
Part science and part social movement, eugenics emerged in the late nineteenth century as a tool for human improvement. In response to perceived threats of criminality, moral degeneration, feeble-mindedness, and “the rising tide of color,” eugenic laws and social policies aimed to better the human race by regulating reproductive choice through science and technology. In this book, Rob Wilson examines eugenic thought and practice—from forced sterilization to prenatal screening—drawing on his experience working with eugenics survivors. Using the social sciences' standpoint theory as a framework to understand the intersection of eugenics, disability, social inclusiveness, and human variation, Wilson focuses on those who have lived through a eugenic past and those confronted by the legacy of eugenic thinking today. By doing so, he brings eugenics from the distant past to the ongoing present.
Wilson discusses such topics as the conceptualization of eugenic traits; the formulation of laws regulating immigration and marriage and requiring sexual sterilization; the depiction of the targets of eugenics as “subhuman”; the systematic construction of a concept of normality; the eugenic logic in prenatal screening and contemporary bioethics; and the incorporation of eugenics and disability into standpoint theory.
Individual purchasers of this book will receive free access to the documentary Surviving Eugenics, available at EugenicsArchive.ca/film.
This comprehensive and courageous book is the best read anyone interested in the history and contemporary practice of eugenics could have. Wilson's analysis and insights about how people with differences are made to seem subhuman are especially apt in this era of hate messages and political bullying.
Anita Silvers, Professor and Chair of Philosophy, San Francisco State University, author and editor of Disability, Difference, Discrimination
Robert Wilson's book is one of the best studies of eugenics to date. Wilson covers the history and theory of eugenics from its origins in the nineteenth century until now. Using standpoint theory, the book manages a difficult task of taking an academic subject and revealing the human and emotional within. It is 'must' reading for anyone interested in eugenics, disability, and biopolitics.
Lennard J. Davis, Distinguished Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago; author of Enabling Acts: The Hidden Story of How the Americans with Disabilities Act Gave the Largest US Minority Its Rights; editor of The Disability Studies Reader