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Title: A reappraisal of the American eugenics movement, in the light of German eugenics (1918-1945)
Author: Lelliott, Jonathan Andrew
ISNI:       0000 0001 3608 0215
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2001
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The accepted version of the history of eugenics - put forward by Kevles, Allen and Barkan amongst others - is that the example of Nazi eugenics contributed to the decline of the eugenics movement in the USA. This dissertation challenges that view and argues that Nazism was irrelevant to that decline. In so doing this work argues against the widely held chronology of American eugenics. Whilst most historians suggest that the older (orthodox) style of American eugenics was weakened by 1933 and then killed off by Nazism, this work argues that it was already finished by 1933. Historians have argued that the newer (reform) eugenics movement began to decline and transformed itself into new fields and organisations partly because eugenics was so widely discredited by Nazism. This dissertation suggests that reform eugenics was not a coherent ideology, but was rather a collection of reactions to the older type of eugenics. As such it could only exist while there was an older eugenics movement to react against. It then voluntarily transformed itself into new fields, as it was too diverse to survive. The fields which developed using parts of the eugenics ideology included population control movements, birth control and family planning, human and population genetics. Orthodox eugenics collapsed because of changes in scientific and social scientific knowledge, the emergence of birth control, opposition from groups like the Catholic Church and changes in economic circumstances. By 1933 the programme of the older generation had not changed, but all of its concerns had been removed from the scientific field to the area of social and cultural concerns. Furthermore, there were tangible and clear-cut distinctions between American and German eugenics, in terms of policy and there were fractures in the international eugenics movement that led to a formal distance between German and American eugenics.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Nazi; Nazism