AHP readers will be interested in an upcoming online talk hosted by the Dittrick Medical History Center at Case Western Reserve University, February 16th, 1:00-2:30 pm (EST). The event is free to attend but registration is required.
“The Shadow of Slavery and the Measure of Miscegenation in American Eugenics,” presented by Rana Hogarth.
Slavery and its afterlives played a much larger role in the development of scientific opinions about the physical and intellectual fitness of mixed race people with Black ancestry (i.e. “mulattoes”) than has been acknowledged in histories of eugenics in the United States. Indeed, fears around race mixing that would later consume eugenicists in the early decades of the twentieth century were already entrenched within white American society in the eras of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. This talk examines the ways in which eugenicists employed scientific tools to measure the physical and intellectual abilities of so-called “Black and white racial hybrids.” As it draws attention to how eugenicists framed research questions about mixed race people’s bodies, this talk also traces the genealogy of the term “miscegenation,” and explores the process through which eugenicists made Blackness a legible biological trait through their studies of skin color, hair texture, and facial features.