Battling Eugenics: Debates and The Rise of Opposition in Science and Culture

Date: October 18-19, 2021

Venue: University of Warsaw









This symposium looks to delineate the rise of the international opposition to eugenics as well as explore the debates within the eugenics camp. We are interested in tracing the growing scientific distrust of eugenic thought in the 20th century before its genocidal application in Nazi Germany. Moreover, we will examine how eugenic discourse has resurfaced and been contested in the decades since World War II in science, culture and through political activism. What were the turning points that led to the rise of doubt about the scientific value of eugenics and skepticism about its ethical implications? How was the international scientific community engaging in eugenic debates and how did those that were initially sympathetic eugenics—such as Franz Boas or W.E.B. Du Bois—over time separate themselves from eugenic paradigm? What were the ways of opposing or challenging eugenic debates on the cultural front? Who were the leaders of the opposition and which forms of art did they use to unsettle eugenic pieties? Which artists distinguished themselves in their distrust of eugenic theories?

Organised by: Ewa Luzak (University of Warsaw) and Joanna Ziarkowska (University of Warsaw)

Poster for the event...