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A Century of Eugenics on our Borders:
Centennial of the Johnson-Reed Act / US Border Patrol
- an online symposium -
27th and 28th of May

“I have a vision of 100 years from now when rather than commemorating another set of dehumanizing and eugenics-inspired laws, people will cite to this symposium as a turning point when Artists, Academics, and Activists came together as experts to make meaning and sense of our past and present while changing the narratives and culture that led to the policies, laws, and systems that dignify and respect of all beings."

Marielena Hincapié, May 28, 2024


On May the 27th-28th we held a 2-day symposium focusing on the theme of Immigration, and Eugenics, to mark the centennials of the passing of the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924, the subsequent establishing of the US Border Patrol force a few days later, and a week or so later the passing of the Indian Citizenship Act.

These are not just key moments a century or so ago, these are moments that were to shape the demographics and look of America for decades to come, with significant global ramifications, the consequences of which are still very felt around the world.  And today, in a world where refugees are being dehumanised at an unprecedented level, where savage cruelty and suffering on borders across the world is being wilfully ignored, and where domestically theories like Great Replacement are being normalised politically and socially across the world to such deadly affect, this significant centennial moment cannot be consigned to chapters in history. Rather they must serve as lessons and warnings for how eugenic theories and doctrines has so rapidly resurfaced and been parroted and embraced by politicians, media and the broader public today.

To mark these anniversaries, From Small Beginnings… in collaboration with CRASH (Canada Region Anti-Eugenic Scholarship Hub) and ELEP (Eugenic Legacies Education Project), pulled together a virtual symposium that over two days will look at surfacing these eugenic histories and their long legacies, but also focused on how these ideas and policies play out in our current climate, and attempted to elevate the inspiring work that is being done by scholars, activists and artists to confront these long legacies. A key emphasis of the symposium was not just on the importance of looking back to understand where we are at today, but on looking forward at how we as a global community might look to disrupt this alarming trajectories of eugenic thinking in immigration policy and attitudes, and build towards a more ethical, equitable and sustainable approach in its place.

For full programme of the event, click here...

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