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p. 724. The inequalities of eugenicslocked

  • Philippa Levine


The goal of eugenic fitness was intended, at its most utopian, to improve lives, to help eradicate disease and disability, and to foster productivity. In practice, however, eugenics mostly reinforced rather than dissolved existing class prejudices. ‘The inequalities of eugenics’ shows that it was frequently the poor, ill-educated, and minorities whose reproductive capacity and lifestyle came under attack, and it was women’s sexuality rather than men’s that was closely policed. The disparity between falling birthrates in the developed world and rising rates elsewhere also created racial inequalities in eugenic policies. Reproductive fitness was being undermined as those considered unfit outbred their superiors. Class, gender, and race differences were thus all central eugenic concerns.

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