14. History of Race and Eugenics (HRE) seminar series Feb-May 2017

Between February and May at Oxford Brookes University, I ran History of Race and Eugenics (HRE): Series 1. Featuring 7 different talks on Friday evenings at 5, this involved a 15-minute presentation, followed by 45 minutes of discussion. It is a fantastic format, which helped attendees expand their understanding of the history of race and eugenics in a relatively informal setting. Each week offered a welcome chance to build working relationships and meet and socialise with new people. The talks, listed as follows, emphasised the contemporary relevance of HRE, be it a new research idea, book launch or potential funding app:

  • Patrick Merricks: “Trump and Immigration in Historical Perspective”
  • David Redvaldsen: “British Eugenics and Utopia”
  • Marius Turda: “The History of Eugenics in East-Central Europe, 1900-1945 (book launch)”
  • Ross Brooks: “Julian Huxley on the Biology of Sex”
  • Simon Wilson: “Eugenics and Culture in Interwar Britain”
  • Aisling Shalvey: “Theories of Mental Degeneration in British Eugenics, 1900-1950”
  • Tudor Georgescu: “Eugenics: The history of breeding better people in 100 objects (funding app)”

Those who attended were from a range of backgrounds, including students (undergraduate and postgraduate), as well as teaching and administrative staff, which certainly enriched the conversation with energetic debates that ensued after each paper.


First paper: the shared opinions of modern politicians and American eugenicists in the 1900s

A clear impact was the quality of work produced by the students working on related topics, many of whom actively took part. Elsewhere, I implemented some of the conclusions into my own teaching in the second-year lecture ‘Case Studies in Eugenics’ for the Crisis of the West module.

As well as an average attendance of 10 people, the seminars had great exposure on twitter and was retweeted by Brookes staff and students and respected academics and public figures outside of the university. Building on this success, Series 2 will start in October during Week 1 of the 2017-2018 academic year. We begin with the launch of my book, Religion and Racial Progress in Twentieth-Century Britain: Bishop Barnes of Birmingham. If you’d like to present a paper at HRE please get in touch.


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