From Galton to Globalization: The Transatlantic Journey of Eugenics
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How did eugenics go from an idea in Britain to a movement in America? That was the question this dissertation originally set out to answer. Also, of interest was how the theory of eugenics went from the fringes to becoming mainstream. Who were the key figures in this transatlantic journey? How were the ideas transmitted and ultimately transformed? How did eugenics become one of the many fads of the 1920s? It was accepted not only as science, but popular science, science made for mass consumption by the public. Through the lens of four biographical essays, this dissertation traces the journey and transformation of eugenics by telling the stories of four men who helped create it, shape it, revolutionize it, and promote it. What is most interesting is that all four of the men looked at in this study are known, among intellectual circles at least, but not namely for eugenics. One is known as an inventor, one is known as a statistician, one is known as a biologist, and the last is known as an economist. All four were essential to the history of eugenics. Perhaps the most important finding of by this research, however, is how eugenics does not necessarily have to be racist. This dissertation argues that racism is not inherent to eugenics, as it is often assumed to be. It is true that eugenics did go hand and hand with white supremacism, but the principle of race is not fundamental to the theory of eugenics. What is, is the factor of socio-economics. Racism can be separated from eugenics, but classism cannot be.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- "Well-born": The life of Sir Francis Galton and the founding of eugenics -- "Goodness of fit": The life of Karl Pearson and evolution of eugenics -- "The hidden figure": The life of Charles B. Davenport and Transatlantic journey of eugenics -- "Teachers and preachers": The life of Irving Fisher and mainstreaming of eugenics -- Conclusions
Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)