UVA and the History of Race: Eugenics, the Racial Integrity Act, Health Disparities

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Virginia on 2020-01-16 03:45Z by Steven

UVA and the History of Race: Eugenics, the Racial Integrity Act, Health Disparities

UVA Today
2020-01-09

P. Preston Reynolds, Professor of Medicine and Nursing
University of Virginia


Thomas Jefferson’s writings included observations about race that aligned with later eugenicists. Under the medical school deanship of Paul Brandon Barringer, right, UVA built its first hospital in 1901, but also continued to advance eugenic science.

Editor’s note: Even an institution as historic as the University of Virginia – now entering its third century – has stories yet to be told. Some are inspiring, while the truths of others are painful, but necessary for a fuller accounting of the past. The President’s Commissions on Slavery and on the University in the Age of Segregation were established to find and tell those stories. Here are some of them, written by those who did the research. One in an occasional series:

By the start of the 20th century, the University of Virginia had become a center of an emerging new strain of racism – eugenics – that would create and perpetuate myths created under the guise of scientific research, but ultimately was intended to demonstrate white racial superiority.

The goal of eugenic science was knowledge of how various traits – emotional, physical, intellectual – were inherited, so that such information could be applied in order to advance the human race and preserve imagined racial superiority. Eugenic scientists used the census, genealogy, measurement of physiological functions and human anatomy, as well as intelligence testing, as methods of investigation.

They believed application of eugenic knowledge, through legislation and community practices, would eliminate mental illness, physical disabilities, moral delinquency, crime and even physical illnesses. They assumed the benefit to society would be a dramatic reduction in the cost of caring for the sick, poor, mentally ill and incarcerated…

Read the entire article here.

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There’s No Such Thing as Objective Science

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-06-11 00:43Z by Steven

There’s No Such Thing as Objective Science

Bitch Media
2019-05-20

Abaki Beck


Illustration of Saartjie Baartman (Wikimedia Commons)

Scientific racism led to the Holocaust and to the forced sterilization of hundreds of women of color in the United States in the 20th century. And yet it’s still overwhelmingly considered neutral, nonpartisan, and, for all intents and purposes, fact. Though these aforementioned horrors are now considered outliers that have been confronted and fixed, science journalist Angela Saini’s third book, Superior: The Return of Race Science, makes the compelling case that scientific racism is as prevalent as it has ever been, and explores the way such backward beliefs have continued to evolve and persist. And it couldn’t be more timely: The book comes out as white nationalism surges across Europe and America deals with a president who routinely makes racist remarks, including referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as “shitholes.”

While researching the book, Saini traveled the world examining how concepts of race developed everywhere from human zoos in Paris to the horrors of the Nazi regime to contemporary American researchers in search of a “Black gene.” What she concludes is depressingly simple: Science intentionally created, and continues to recreate, race. “There are plenty of ignorant racists, but the problem is not just ignorance,” she writes. “The problem is that, even when people know the facts, not everyone actually wants an end to racial inequality. And this means that those committed to the biological reality of race won’t back down if the data prove them wrong.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Disturbing Resilience of Scientific Racism

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2019-05-21 16:03Z by Steven

The Disturbing Resilience of Scientific Racism

Smithsonian.com
2019-05-20

Ramin Skibba


Nazi officials use calipers to measure an ethnic German’s nose on January 1, 1941. The Nazis developed a pseudoscientific system of facial measurement that was supposedly a way of determining racial descent. (Hulton-Deutsch Collection / CORBIS / Corbis via Getty Images)

A new book explores how racist biases continue to maintain a foothold in research today

Scientists, including those who study race, like to see themselves as objectively exploring the world, above the political fray. But such views of scientific neutrality are naive, as study findings, inevitably, are influenced by the biases of the people conducting the work.

The American sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois once wrote, “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” His words were borne out, in part, by science. It was the century when the scientifically backed enterprise of eugenics—improving the genetic quality of white, European races by removing people deemed inferior—gained massive popularity, with advocates on both sides of the Atlantic. It would take the Holocaust to show the world the logical endpoint of such horrific ideology, discrediting much race-based science and forcing eugenics’ most hardline adherents into the shadows.

The post-war era saw scientists on the right-wing fringe find ways to cloak their racist views in more palatable language and concepts. And as Angela Saini convincingly argues in her new book, Superior: The Return of Race Science, published May 21 by Beacon Press, the “problem of the color line” still survives today in 21st-century science.

In her thoroughly researched book, Saini, a London-based science journalist, provides clear explanations of racist concepts while diving into the history of race science, from archaeology and anthropology to biology and genetics. Her work involved poring through technical papers, reports and books, and interviewing numerous scientists across various fields, sometimes asking uncomfortable questions about their research…

Read the entire article here.

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Declared Defective: Native Americans, Eugenics, and the Myth of Nam Hollow

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2018-05-27 23:50Z by Steven

Declared Defective: Native Americans, Eugenics, and the Myth of Nam Hollow

University of Nebraska Press
May 2018
246 pages
9 photographs, 1 illustration, 3 maps, 2 tables, 8 charts, index
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4962-0200-0

Robert Jarvenpa, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology
State University of New York, Albany

Declared Defective is the anthropological history of an outcast community and a critical reevaluation of The Nam Family, written in 1912 by Arthur Estabrook and Charles Davenport, leaders of the early twentieth-century eugenics movement. Based on their investigations of an obscure rural enclave in upstate New York, the biologists were repulsed by the poverty and behavior of the people in Nam Hollow. They claimed that their alleged indolence, feeble-mindedness, licentiousness, alcoholism, and criminality were biologically inherited.

Declared Defective reveals that Nam Hollow was actually a community of marginalized, mixed-race Native Americans, the Van Guilders, adapting to scarce resources during an era of tumultuous political and economic change. Their Mohican ancestors had lost lands and been displaced from the frontiers of colonial expansion in western Massachusetts in the late eighteenth century. Estabrook and Davenport’s portrait of innate degeneracy was a grotesque mischaracterization based on class prejudice and ignorance of the history and hybridic subculture of the people of Guilder Hollow. By bringing historical experience, agency, and cultural process to the forefront of analysis, Declared Defective illuminates the real lives and struggles of the Mohican Van Guilders. It also exposes the pseudoscientific zealotry and fearmongering of Progressive Era eugenics while exploring the contradictions of race and class in America.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • List of Tables
  • Series Editors’ Introduction
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: The Menace in the Hollow
  • 1. Native Americans and Eugenics
  • 2. Border Wars and the Origins of the Van Guilders
  • 3. A “New” Homeland and the Cradle of Guilder Hollow
  • 4. From Pioneers to Outcastes
  • 5. The Eugenicists Arrive
  • 6. Deconstructing the Nam and the Hidden Native Americans
  • 7. Demonizing the Marginalized Poor
  • Conclusion: The Myth Unravels
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Eugenics in Brazil: In the early 20th century, elites believed racial improvement was only possible with a project favoring predominance of the white race

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive on 2018-04-01 01:38Z by Steven

Eugenics in Brazil: In the early 20th century, elites believed racial improvement was only possible with a project favoring predominance of the white race

Black Women of Brazil: The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent
2018-02-27

Tiago Ferreira, Staff
Vix

What was the eugenics movement in Brazil: so absurd that it is difficult to believe

Eugenia is a term that came from the Greek and means ‘well born’. “Eugenics emerged to validate hierarchical segregation,” Pietro Diwan, author of the book Raça Pura: uma história da eugenia no Brasil e no mundo (Pure Race: A History of Eugenics in Brazil and the World), explains to VIX.

How eugenics was born

The idea was disseminated by Francis Galton, responsible for creating the term, in 1883. He imagined that the concept of natural selection of Charles Darwin—who, by the way, was his cousin—also applied to humans.

His project was intended to prove that the intellectual capacity was hereditary, that is, it passed from member to member of the family and, thus, to justify the exclusion of the blacks, Asian immigrants and disabled of all the types…

Read the entire article here.

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Japan Reborn: Mixed-Race Children, Eugenic Nationalism, and the Politics of Sex after World War II

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Dissertations, History, Media Archive, United States on 2017-04-06 01:29Z by Steven

Japan Reborn: Mixed-Race Children, Eugenic Nationalism, and the Politics of Sex after World War II

Columbia University
2015
DOI: 10.7916/D83F4NS4

Kristin A. Roebuck, ‎Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in History
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

In April 1952, Japan emerged from Allied occupation free, peaceful, and democratic.

Japan’s presses marked the occasion by declaring a state of crisis: the “konketsuji [mixed-blood children] crisis.” By all accounts, Allied soldiers had sired and abandoned two hundred thousand “mixed-blood” orphans in Japan. However, Chapter One reveals this to be a fabricated crisis or “moral panic.” Surveys found only a few thousand konketsuji nationwide, very few of them orphans. Yet these discoveries did little to change the tenor of “crisis.” Opposition politicians deployed wrath and fear over “blood mixing” to discredit the dominant Liberal Party and its alliance with the United States. They were abetted by an array of postwar activists who used the “crisis” to reconstruct Japanese nationalism, laid low by defeat and occupation, on a new basis: the “pure” race rather than the failed state.

Chapter Two explores how the panic over “blood mixing” inevitably embroiled not just children but women as well. Japanese women were subject to intense pressures to eschew sex and family formation with Western men, and to abort “mixed” fetuses on eugenic grounds rather than bear them to term. 1948 marked the beginning of the end of criminal prosecution of abortion in Japan. The law that inaugurated this shift, the Eugenic Protection Law (EPL), is generally viewed as an advancement in women’s rights, despite the fact that the EPL envisioned and promoted the use of abortion as a means of managing the “quality and quantity” of Japan’s population.

Scholarship on the links between eugenics and the decriminalization of abortion in Japan is vast, but scholars have yet to probe deeply into how eugenic abortion was applied to control—or forestall—“race mixing” after the war. Although it was politically impossible for the government to impose abortions outright on women who might be pregnant with the children of Japan’s conquerors, such women were nonetheless targeted for eugenic intervention. For these women, abortion was not an option granted in a liberal democracy concerned with women’s rights. Abortion was an imperative imposed by a diverse array of governmental and non-governmental actors united behind an ideology of “pure blood.”

Chapter Three explains how postwar scientific presses framed konketsuji born in the wake of World War II as an unprecedented presence. Geneticists, physical anthropologists, clinicians, and other researchers from the late 1940s through the 1970s deployed a “system of silences” to erase Japan’s prewar konketsuji community from view. They thereby not only constructed the Japanese as a racial community bounded by “pure blood,” but denied that the racialized nation ever had or ever could assimilate foreign elements. Scientific spokesmen effected the discursive purification of Japan despite resistance from “mixed-blood” adults who organized to contest the rising tide of racial nationalism. In the process, these scientists severely undercut the “mixed” community’s advocacy of a civically rather than biologically constituted nation.

Chapter Four contrasts the decline of race science and eugenics in the West with their efflorescence in postwar Japan, where conditions of occupation heightened the relevance of racial eugenics as a prescription for national unity and strength. It is well known that Anglophone genetics and physical anthropology were led at the mid-century by immigrants and minorities, prominently including Theodosius Dobzhansky and Ashley Montagu. Yet without comparative analysis, it is difficult to weigh the significance of this fact, or of the fact that minorities did not lead the Japanese sciences. Japanese geneticists and anthropologists who identified as having “pure Japanese blood” never questioned that biopolitical category or the costs it imposed on those it excluded.

I argue that who practiced science counts for much more than is allowed by objectivist narratives of self-correcting scientific “progress.” My project explains for the first time why racial nationalism and an ethos of ethnic cleansing triumphed in Japan at the very moment these forces receded in other contexts.

Embargoed until 2017-06-30.

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Science and miscegenation in the early twentieth century: Edgard Roquette-Pinto’s debates and controversies with US physical anthropology

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2016-08-09 20:25Z by Steven

Science and miscegenation in the early twentieth century: Edgard Roquette-Pinto’s debates and controversies with US physical anthropology

História, Ciências, Saúde-Manguinhos
Published online ahead of print on 2016-07-18
17 pages
DOI: 10.1590/S0104-59702016005000014

Vanderlei Sebastião de Souza, Professor
Department of History
Universidade Estadual do Centro-Oeste, Brazil

Translated by Diane Grosklaus Whitty

The article analyzes Brazilian anthropologist Edgard Roquette-Pinto’s participation in the international debate that involved the field of physical anthropology and discussions on miscegenation in the first decades of the twentieth century. Special focus is on his readings and interpretations of a group of US anthropologists and eugenicists and his controversies with them, including Charles Davenport, Madison Grant, and Franz Boas. The article explores the various ways in which Roquette-Pinto interpreted and incorporated their ideas and how his anthropological interpretations took on new meanings when they moved beyond Brazil’s borders.

Read the entire article here.

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Towards a Biopolitics of Beauty: Eugenics, Aesthetic Hierarchies and Plastic Surgery in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2016-07-29 19:05Z by Steven

Towards a Biopolitics of Beauty: Eugenics, Aesthetic Hierarchies and Plastic Surgery in Brazil

Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies: Travesia
Volume 24, Issue 4, 2015
Special Issue: Visual Culture and Violence in Contemporary Mexico
DOI: 10.1080/13569325.2015.1091296

Alvaro Jarrín, Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts

This article provides a historical and ethnographic perspective to explain the saliency of beauty within the reproduction of racial inequalities in Brazil. I argue that Brazil’s neo-Lamarckian eugenics movement was the first to craft beauty as an index of racial improvement within the nation, and this eugenic legacy undergirds many of the contemporary discourses of beautification. Plastic surgery, in particular, inherited the biopolitical aim to produce a homogeneous body politic through beautification, an aim that was easily adapted to the contemporary context of neoliberal self-improvement. Today, beauty is a technology of biopower, one which ranks the population within an aesthetic hierarchy that produces non-white facial characteristics as undesirable, and interpellates patients as responsible for their own surgical corrections, albeit with state support in the case of the poor. Thus, this article contributes to the literature that understands science and medicine as key within the history of racialization in Latin America, making explicit how biopolitics has fashioned race and beauty as inextricable and intertwined elements of social inclusion and exclusion.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Measuring Manhood: Race and the Science of Masculinity, 1830–1934

Posted in Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2015-11-16 18:47Z by Steven

Measuring Manhood: Race and the Science of Masculinity, 1830–1934

University of Minnesota Press
September 2015
368 pages
32 b&w photos
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper ISBN 978-0-8166-7303-2
Cloth ISBN 978-0-8166-7302-5

Melissa N. Stein, Assistant Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies
University of Kentucky

From the “gay gene” to the “female brain” and African American students’ insufficient “hereditary background” for higher education, arguments about a biological basis for human difference have reemerged in the twenty-first century. Measuring Manhood shows where they got their start.

Melissa N. Stein analyzes how race became the purview of science in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America and how it was constructed as a biological phenomenon with far-reaching social, cultural, and political resonances. She tells of scientific “experts” who advised the nation on its most pressing issues and exposes their use of gender and sex differences to conceptualize or buttress their claims about racial difference. Stein examines the works of scientists and scholars from medicine, biology, ethnology, and other fields to trace how their conclusions about human difference did no less than to legitimize sociopolitical hierarchy in the United States.

Covering a wide range of historical actors from Samuel Morton, the infamous collector and measurer of skulls in the 1830s, to NAACP leader and antilynching activist Walter White in the 1930s, this book reveals the role of gender, sex, and sexuality in the scientific making⎯and unmaking⎯of race.

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Science in support of racial mixture: Charles-Augustin Vandermonde’s Enlightenment program for improving the health and beauty of the human species

Posted in Articles, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive on 2013-12-26 13:44Z by Steven

Science in support of racial mixture: Charles-Augustin Vandermonde’s Enlightenment program for improving the health and beauty of the human species

Endeavor
Available online 2013-12-25 (Corrected Proof)
DOI: 10.1016/j.endeavour.2013.11.001

Clara Pinto-Correia
Instituto de Investigação Científica Bento da Rocha Cabral, Lisboa, Portugal
Centro de Estudos de História e Filosofia das Ciências, Évora, Portugal

João Lourenço Monteiro
Departamento de Ciências Sociais Aplicadas
Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal

In 1756, while he was regent of the Faculté de Médecine in Paris, Charles-Augustin Vandermonde published his Essai sur la Manière de Perfectionner l’Espèce Humaine. This treatise was situated within the French-led medical movement of meliorism, meant to increase public health by boosting the medical arrangement of marriages from all strata of society. What made Vandermonde different from his colleagues is that he was not just looking for a way to improve the health of society: he was also proposing a series of measures meant to increase the beauty of humankind. And, for the first time in the history of European medicine, he advocated mixed-race couplings as a means to obtain the best results. This latter development is so unexpected in the global setting of the Enlightenment that we could arguably hail Vandermonde as the founding father of what Michel Foucault later called ‘biopolitique’.

Read or purchase the article here.

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