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Eugenics and Protestant social reform : hereditary science and religion in America, 1860-1940

Author: Dennis L Durst
Publisher: Eugene, Oregon : Pickwick Publications, [2017]
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
The eugenics movement prior to the Second World War gave voice to the desire of many social reformers to promote good births and prevent bad births. Two sources of cultural authority in this period, science and religion, often found common cause in the promotion of eugenics. The rhetoric of biology and theology blended in strange ways through a common framework known as degeneration theory. Degeneration, a core  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Dennis L Durst
ISBN: 9781532605772 1532605773 9781532605796 153260579X
OCLC Number: 983569628
Description: xv, 201 pages ; 23 cm
Contents: Introduction --
Degeneration theory and eugenics discourse --
Theories of heredity and the rise of eugenics --
"Stigmata of degeneration" : the religious rhetoric of eugenics --
Eugenic family studies, science, and religion --
The degenerate mind and hereditary mental defect --
Epilepsy and eugenics in scientific and religious perspective --
From sinful to criminal : the making of hereditary criminality --
Drink and the degeneration of the germ plasm --
Degeneration and the race question --
Theologians, hereditary sin, and eugenics --
Conclusion: The quest for good births.
Responsibility: Dennis L. Durst.

Abstract:

The eugenics movement prior to the Second World War gave voice to the desire of many social reformers to promote good births and prevent bad births. Two sources of cultural authority in this period, science and religion, often found common cause in the promotion of eugenics. The rhetoric of biology and theology blended in strange ways through a common framework known as degeneration theory. Degeneration, a core concept of the eugenics movement, served as a key conceptual nexus between theological and scientific reflection on heredity among Protestant intellectuals and social reformers in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. Elite efforts at social control of the allegedly "unfit" took the form of negative eugenics. This included marriage restrictions and even sterilization for many who were identified as having a suspect heredity. Speculations on heredity were deployed in identifying the feeble-minded, hereditary criminals, hereditary alcoholics, and racial minorities as presumed hindrances to the progress of civilization. A few social reformers trained in biology, anthropology, criminology, and theology eventually raised objections to the eugenics movement. Still, many thousands of citizens on the margins were labeled as defectives and suffered human rights violations during this turbulent time of social change. --

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