Host: Joan Neuberger, Department of History and Editor, Not Even Past
Guest: Philippa Levine, Professor; Mary Helen Thompson Centennial Professorship in the Humanities; Co-Director British Studies Program
Early in the twentieth century, governments all over the world thought they had found a rational, efficient, and scientific solution to the related problems of poverty, crime, and hereditary illness. Scientists hoped they might be able to help societies control the social problems that arose from these phenomena. All over the world, the science-turned-social-policy known as eugenics became a base-line around which social services and welfare legislation were organized.
Philippa Levine, co-editor of a newly published book on the history of eugenics, explains the appeal and wide-reaching effects of the eugenics movement, which at its best inspired access to pre-natal care, access to clean water, and the eradication of harmful diseases, but at its worst led to compulsory sterilization laws, and the horrific experiments of the Nazi death camps.