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Title: Eugenics and Christian mission : charitable welfare in transition : London and New York, c. 1865-1940
Author: Baker, Graham
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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In this thesis it is argued that a full and complete understanding of the eugenics movement may only be gained by examining those who were implicated in its criticisms. Using the example of three Christian missionary organisations that worked amongst largely poor and immigrant communities in London and New York, it is demonstrated that eugenics was a pervasive ideology outside its 'official' societies. Moving away from an understanding grounded in ideas of conflict and concession, it will be demonstrated that those whose work was challenged by eugenic claims were able to interpret the ideology according to their existing reformist agendas. Hereditarian ideas did not sound the death knell for reformers, and these organisations demonstrated both the willingness and capacity to shape eugenic ideas within and outside their organisations. From these examples it is argued there is a need to move beyond definitions of eugenics that limit the movement to a small subset of its methods. Far from being a peripheral aspect to the history of eugenics, it will be seen that these missionary agencies occupied a position at the centre of eugenicists' concerns. As prominent providers of charity, a work charged by eugenicists with unnaturally hindering the natural laws of selection, religious communities were, in part, one of the reasons that eugenics was deemed necessary in the first place. This picture is confirmed by an examination of two eugenics societies, one on each side of the Atlantic, where the impact of religious sentiment and ideas exerted a dramatic effect upon policies and propaganda work. There was no one-way flow of ideology from eugenicists towards reformers, but rather a two-way dialogue which created a marked impression on both groups.
Supervisor: Corsi, Pietro Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History ; History of medicine ; Eugenics ; Scientific Racism ; Christian Mission ; Philanthropy ; the Salvation Army ; London City Mission ; New York City Mission