Ballard, Third Floor 02 Nov 2018 Roundtable
Human and Social Sciences 15:45 - 17:45

Over the last decade, historians, sociologists, and biologists have identified new strains of eugenic thought and practice. In 2014, Amrita Pande depicted the global surrogacy market using the bodies of Indian women as a form of “neo-eugenics.” More recently, Robert Pollack warned Science readers that CRISPR would usher in a new era of “rational eugenics.” These concerns about reproductive control and unchecked uses of biotechnology sit uncomfortably against a rising global tide in nationalist and racist rhetoric. Incendiary speakers and scholars, often aligning themselves with nativist or white supremacist viewpoints, evoke notions of a eugenically pure past and recirculate unfounded claims about racial differences in intelligence and capabilities.  

In this roundtable, we hope to prompt discussions of how we can diversify our historical narratives in both print and teaching to address these emerging conceptions and conversations surrounding eugenics.  Here we define teaching broadly as the diverse ways we can use history of science to engage with many audiences, whether in the classroom or in the public sphere.  Samantha Muka, Ayah Nuriddin, and Jenna Tonn ask how expanding our focus of race, class, and gender in historical narratives can impact current public conversations surrounding eugenics. Nathaniel Comfort, Lloyd Ackert, and Christine Manganaro examine the way current debates shape how historians approach conversations surrounding topics such as genetic engineering and social welfare. Both groups ask how historians can think critically about accepted eugenic narratives to meet the demands of a new set of social and political conversations.

Co-organized by Lloyd Ackert (Drexel University) and Samantha Muka (Stevens Institue of Technology)



Johns Hopkins University
Maryland Institute College of Art
Boston College
Johns Hopkins University
Stevens Institute of Technology
Drexel University


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