Tag Archives: eugenics

Special Issue: Museums as Sites for Historical Understanding, Peace, and Social Justice: Views from Canada

The November 2013 offering of Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology is a special issue dedicated to “Museums as Sites for Historical Understanding, Peace, and Social Justice: Views from Canada.” Guest edited by Carleton University public historian David Dean, the issue is particularly timely given the soon to be opening Canadian Museum of Human Rights (CMHR), the first national museum in Canada to be located outside of the nation’s capitol (see above). Articles in this issue explore the use of digital games in museum settings, the controversies surrounding the selection of exhibits for the CMHR, the history of eugenics in Canada, the history of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Introduction to special issue on museums, and editor’s thanks and farewell,” by Susan Opotow. The abstract reads,

This introduction to the special issue of Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, the last for the editor, has two parts. In the first, the editor introduces an exciting special issue on Canadian museums that speaks to peace and conflict in valuable, interdisciplinary ways. In the second, the editor thanks the many people who have made the journal such a vital forum for understanding peace and conflict.

“Museums as sites for historical understanding, peace, and social justice: Views from Canada,” by David Dean. The abstract reads,

This article examines a range of issues surrounding the proposition that museums are excellent sites in which historical understanding can be deepened, thus raising the possibility of peaceful resolution to conflict and the achievement of social justice. The article begins by arguing that Canada is a case study worthy of detailed exploration. A settler state with a significant aboriginal presence, Canada is unique in its official commitment to multicultural and bilingual identities, and its traditional identity as a country extolling human rights, social justice, environmental responsibility, and peacekeeping. These markers of nationhood have become increasingly problematic in light of the Conservative government’s insistence upon unifying narratives of nationhood privileging military glories, ties to the British monarchy, and constitutional achievements. This reinvention of the nation has been visible in many places, but especially in commemorative practices, sites of memory, and museums. Recent and ongoing changes to the museum landscape have ignited much discussion about the nature and role of national museums. The author offers a summary of recent scholarly work by public historians on museums in contemporary society and considers museums that explicitly assert an agenda of social responsibility, before introducing the reader to three major national museums in Canada: the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Canadian Museum of Civilization (soon to be the Canadian History Museum), and the Canadian War Museum. Finally, the article introduces readers to the articles that follow in this special issue.

“Commemorating human rights: Exploring origins, episodes, and historicity in constructing a human rights timeline,” by Bonny Ibhawoh. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special Issue: Museums as Sites for Historical Understanding, Peace, and Social Justice: Views from Canada

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Special Issue: History of Psychology in Canada!

The May 2013 edition of Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne is a special issue dedicated to the history of psychology in Canada. Guested by Adrian Brock, the issue includes a number of articles exploring different facets of psychology’s development in the nation. Articles explore the history of the first generation of women in Canadian psychology, the relationship between the women’s movement and eugenics in Alberta, the role of culture in the history of psychology, and the life of the first Canadian-born president of the American Psychological Association, John Wallace Baird.  Full article titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Full Disclosure: This special issue includes articles co-authored by AHP’s editor and faculty advisor, as well as two of AHP’s contributors.

“Introduction to the special issue on the history of psychology in Canada,” by Adrian C. Brock. The abstract reads,

This article begins by pointing out that history and theory of psychology is much stronger in Canada than it is elsewhere. However, the history of psychology in Canada itself tends to be neglected. This situation is linked to the dominance of American psychology and the movement to establish a distinctively Canadian psychology that differs from psychology in the United States. It is argued that this movement can help to encourage more interest in the history of psychology in Canada and vice versa. It is also suggested that addressing the neglect of the history of psychology in Canada will lead to more internationalization, not less.

“Reconstructing the experiences of first generation women in Canadian psychology,” Pelin Gul, Anastasia Korosteliov, Lori Caplan, Laura C. Ball, Jennifer L. Bazar, Elissa N. Rodkey, Jacy L. Young, Kate Sheese, and Alexandra Rutherford. The abstract reads,

To date, the historiography on women in Canadian psychology has been relatively sparse. Continue reading Special Issue: History of Psychology in Canada!

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Bowlby & Galton in British J. for Hist. of Sci.

The September 2011 issue of the British Journal for the History of Science (BJHS) has been released online. Included in this issue are two articles of interest to historians of psychology. The first, by Marga Vicedo of the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto, examines the American reception of John Bowlby’s (left) work on attachment in the 1950s. Part of Vicedo’s ongoing project on “Human Nature and Mother Love: The Search for the Maternal Instinct” the paper examines Bowlby’s contention that mother love was a biological need and the social ramifications of this contention. Also in this issue of BJHS is an article by Chris Renwick in which Renwick explores the motivations behind Francis Galton’s proposed eugenic programme and argues that Galton’s eugenic ideas were influence more by the social than biological science. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The social nature of the mother’s tie to her child: John Bowlby’s theory of attachment in post-war America,” by Marga Vicedo. The abstract reads,

This paper examines the development of British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby’s views and their scientific and social reception in the United States during the 1950s. In a 1951 report for the World Health Organization Bowlby contended that the mother is the child’s psychic organizer, as observational studies of children worldwide showed that absence of mother love had disastrous consequences for children’s emotional health. By the end of the decade Bowlby had moved from observational studies of children in hospitals to animal research in order to support his thesis that mother love is a biological need. I examine the development of Bowlby’s views and their scientific and social reception in the United States during the 1950s, a central period in the evolution of his views and in debates about the social implications of his work. I argue that Bowlby’s view that mother love was a biological need for children influenced discussions about the desirability of mothers working outside the home during the early Cold War. By claiming that the future of a child’s mind is determined by her mother’s heart, Bowlby’s argument exerted an unusually strong emotional demand on mothers and had powerful implications for the moral valuation of maternal care and love.

“From political economy to sociology: Francis Galton and the social-scientific origins of eugenics,” by Chris Renwick. The abstract reads,

Having coined the word ‘eugenics’ and inspired leading biologists and statisticians of the early twentieth century, Francis Galton is often studied for his contributions to modern statistical biology. However, whilst documenting this part of his work, historians have frequently neglected crucial aspects of what motivated Galton to establish his eugenics research programme. Arguing that his work was shaped more by social than by biological science, this paper addresses these oversights by tracing the development of Galton’s programme, from its roots in a debate about political economy to his appeals for it to be taken up by sociologists. In so doing, the paper not only returns Galton’s ideas to their original context but also provides a reason to reflect on the place of the social sciences in history-of-science scholarship.

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Old Resource Made New

The Annals of Human Genetics (AHG), formerly named Annals of Eugenics, has recently made its 1925-1954 journal content available online for researchers. Among the now controversial eugenics research appearing throughout these issues, researchers can also expect to find statistical publications by mathematician Karl Pearson, whose work at University College London concerned the widely used Pearson Product-Moment Correlation Coefficient, the Pearson Chi-Square test, and P-value.

The AHG editorial cites “ongoing use and reference to materials”… “and the somewhat limited availability of the original printed copy” as justification for making the content available online. Furthermore,

Online access to the Annals of Eugenics archive will also be of interest to historians of science. In many ways, the history of the Annals embodies the history of human genetics as a scientific enterprise and exemplifies the complex relationship of this discipline with wider society. The somber role that human genetics played in providing what was taken to be a scientific framework to social prejudice during the period of “Eugenics” is a well-known case of the complex interaction between science and society. The present issue of the journal includes four specially commissioned articles that attempt to contextualize the online publication of the Annals of Eugenics archive. To exemplify some of the major scientific contributions made during that period, the article by J. Ott highlights key papers on linkage analysis published by the journal. The contributions by K. Weiss, G. Allen, and D. Kevles deal with aspects of the history of eugenics and of human genetics, and explore their relevance to ongoing debates regarding the social implications of human genetics research.

For further reading see this article by USA Today, Essays in Eugenics by Sir Francis Galton, The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of Feeble-Mindedness by psychologist Henry Herbert Goddard, and some earlier AHP coverage of the topic.

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The rise of body-building in Chicago, 1890-1920

Dexter Jackson at the 2007 IFBB Australian Bodybuilding Grand Prix in MelbourneIn a recent issue of History of Education Quarterly, 48(3), David S. Churchill examined the effects of Social Darwinian ideas on the educational policies of the Chicago Public School Board.

In February 1899, the Committee of Physical Culture of the Chicago Public School Board approved an intensive “anthropometric” study of all children enrolled in the city’s public schools. The study was a detailed attempt to measure the height, weight, strength, lung capacity, hearing, and general fitness of Chicago’s student population. Through 1899 and 1900, thousands of Chicago’s primary, grammar, and high school students had their bodies closely scrutinized, measured, weighed, tested, and, in a few cases, diagrammed. What the School Board members wanted to know was the “fitness” of the student body. Were Chicago public school students — many recently arrived immigrants from eastern and southern Europe — vital and vigorous children who could become energetic modern workers and citizens? (p. 341)

The results of this study had social and political implications.

Reassuringly, the authors stated that the students in the Chicago schools… showed “superiority” in “both size and physical development” when compared with children in other cities. Implicit in the social scientists’ comments was a desire to achieve an ideal type of body—an ideal that many Social Darwinist and eugenicists feared was disappearing. For some social reformers in the late 1890s loss of the ideal type was resulting in “a biological deterioration,” a deterioration caused by waves of immigration and resulting in social and economic degeneracy. (p. 343)

The response was a turn toward body-building, but couched specifically in gendered terms. Continue reading The rise of body-building in Chicago, 1890-1920

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Eugenics to Make a Comeback in Louisiana?

John LaBruzzoThe New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on September 24 that a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives named John LaBruzzo “is studying a plan to pay poor women $1,000 to have their Fallopian tubes tied” in order to contain the state’s welfare costs. The article says that LaBruzzo is worried that “people receiving government aid such as food stamps and publicly subsidized housing are reproducing at a faster rate than more affluent, better-educated people who presumably pay more tax revenue to the government.”

He said his program would be voluntary. It could involve tubal ligation, encouraging other forms of birth control or, to avoid charges of gender discrimination, vasectomies for men. It also could include tax incentives for college-educated, higher-income people to have more children, he said.

The district LaBruzzo’s represents “is the same district that sent white supremacist David Duke to the Legislature in 1989″ according to the article. Continue reading Eugenics to Make a Comeback in Louisiana?

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The Scopes Trial Revisited

Science as CultureIn a recent issue of Science as Culture, 17(2), Matthew J. Tontonoz compares the recent “evolution wars” with a revival of the historic Scopes trial of 1925. In this formulation, William Jennings Bryan — who had served as the Democratic presidential nominee in 1896, 1900, and 1908 — plays the role presently adopted by, as Tontonoz puts it, “today’s creationists and proponents of intelligent design.”

Using Bryan’s unread closing remarks as a key to his views, this revisionist historical work argues that Bryan opposed evolution primarily for political and ethical reasons–reasons that have been lost to historical memory. Bryan’s overarching concern was the threat to society posed by extrapolations of evolutionary doctrine–namely, Social Darwinism and eugenics. His commitment to the Social Gospel put him at odds with the concept of natural selection being applied to humans. This view of Bryan differs from the one with which we are most familiar. Our faulty historical memory largely reflects the caricatured view of Scopes spawned by the movie Inherit the Wind, a view that, furthermore, reinforces an unhelpful positivistic view of science.

See also at AHP: Darwin and early American psychology, Scopes “Monkey” Trial Ended on this Date

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Classic Science from “The Giants’ Shoulders”

a giantThe second issue of the “The Giants’ Shoulders” — a blog carnival focusing on reviews of “great” scientific publications of the past — has been posted at the blog “The Lay Scientist.”

Of particular interest to historians of psychology will be the account by SciCurious of Paul Broca’s “discovery” of Broca’s Area of the brain. Although the account is valuable enough, it unfortunately appears to trade in the myths about Broca that were described in Roger Thomas’ article about commonly repeated untruths in the history of psychology (which appeared in the fall 2007 issue of American Journal of Psychology ). Continue reading Classic Science from “The Giants’ Shoulders”

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101 Years Since First US Sterilization Law

Eugenics Congress logo According to the “Today in the History of Psychology” website, the first U.S. eugenic sterilization law was enacted by the Indiana legislature on March 9, 1907. “The law provided for sterilization of ‘confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles, and rapists.'” Indiana was not the first US state to attempt a compulsory sterilization law. A bill was introduced in the Michigan legislature in 1897 but failed to pass. Pennsylvania legislators passed a sterilization bill in 1905, but it was vetoed by the governor. The legislative success in Indiana was repeated in 1909 with similar laws in Washington and California. Thirty other states soon followed suit.

Continue reading 101 Years Since First US Sterilization Law

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Old Eugenics vs. New Genetics

Dr Merryn EkbergAn article in the latest Social History of Medicine, 20(3), asks if “the new genetics is a renewal, reform or return of eugenics.” In her discussion, author Merryn Ekberg examines several issues that will also be of interest to historians of psychology.

One of the greatest fears associated with the new genetics is the resurgence of eugenics, but too often this assumes the new genetics is eugenics without investigating the diverse definitions and interpretations of eugenics. The aim of this paper is to critically investigate the concept of eugenics in theory and in practice…. The discussion is oriented around six key arguments that illuminate the central points of convergence and divergence between the old eugenics and the new genetics. Ultimately, the paper concludes that despite significant procedural, legislative and administrative differences between the old eugenics and the new genetics, and despite significant spatial, temporal and cultural variations in interpretation and implementation, at the ideological level, there is essentially no difference. The old eugenics was genetics and the new genetics is eugenics.

Continue reading Old Eugenics vs. New Genetics

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