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Eugenics: A Very Short introduction

Professor Philippa Levine

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Oxford University Press
26 January 2017
Politics & government; History of science; Human biology
In 1883, Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, coined the word "eugenics" to express his dream of perfecting the human race by applying the laws of genetic heredity. Adapting Darwin's theory of evolution to human society, eugenics soon became a powerful, international movement, committed to using the principles of heredity and statistics to encourage healthy and discourage unhealthy reproduction. Early in the twentieth century and across the world, doctors, social reformers, and politicians turned to the new science of eugenics as a means to improve and strengthen their populations. Eugenics advocates claimed their methods would result in healthier, fitter babies and would dramatically limit human suffering.

The reality was a different story. In the name of scientific progress and of human improvement, eugenicists targeted the weak and the sick, triggering coercive legislation on issues as disparate as race, gender, immigration, euthanasia, abortion, sterilization, intelligence, mental illness, and disease control. Nationalists eagerly embraced eugenics as a means to legitimize their countries' superiority and racialized assumptions, and the Nazis notoriously used eugenics to shape their "final solution."

In this lucid volume, Philippa Levine tackles the intricate and controversial history of eugenics, masterfully synthesizing the enormous range of policies and experiments carried out in the name of eugenics around the world throughout the twentieth century. She questions the widespread belief that eugenics disappeared after World War II and evaluates the impact of eugenics on current reproductive and genetic sciences. Charting the development of such controversial practices as artificial insemination, sperm donation, and population control, this book offers a powerful, extraordinarily timely reflection on the frequent interplay between genetics and ethics. Eugenics may no longer be a household word, but we feel its effects even today.
By:   Professor Philippa Levine
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 174mm,  Width: 112mm,  Spine: 8mm
Weight:   130g
ISBN:   9780199385904
ISBN 10:   0199385904
Series:   Very Short Introductions
Pages:   168
Publication Date:   26 January 2017
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Philippa Levine is the Mary Helen Thompson Centennial Professor in the Humanities and the Co-Director of the Program in British Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics and she has published extensively on nineteenth- and twentieth-century British and British Empire history, as well as on science, sexuality, and medicine.

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