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Citizen Assembly leads...

Sulekha Hassan, Ngoma Bishop (Ethical Name Change)

Community Organising Partner...

WMAP (Women's Muslim Advocacy Project)

Bloomsbury Eugenics Congress Centennial Steering Group…

Benedict Ipgrave (Birkbeck), Nora Groce (UCL), Caroline Bressey (UCL), David Feldman (Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism), Debbie Challis (LSE), Fay Brauer (UEL), Indy Bhullar (LSE), Joe Cain (UCL), Louise Lyle (ULIP), Marius Turda (Oxford Brookes), Mark Pimm (Birkbeck), Roddy Slorach (Imperial College), Saskia Baron, Subhadra Das (UCL), Tom Haward (Institute for Education)

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Bloomsbury Addressing Eugenics Citizen’s Assembly

(Bloomsbury Eugenics Congress Anti-Centennial Steering Group)

Context...

September 2021 marks the centennial of the Second International Eugenics Congress held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York in 1921. The repercussions of this Congress were felt across the globe and helped to usher in, normalise and in the name of ‘Science’ justify some of the most extreme atrocities recorded in history. In less obvious forms, ideas promulgated at the Second Eugenics Congress continue to reverberate in contemporary science, medicine, education and politics. We are still grappling with the legacies of the Second International Eugenics Congress today.

As with a century ago we find ourselves on the cusp of political, scientific, technological, social and economic developments that could well embed a revival of eugenic theories and practices that we now know to be scientifically unfounded and often dangerous for individuals and societies. Key components of the current arguments heard in support of racism, sexism, anti-immigrant, anti-disability and anti-LGBTQ individuals and populations often is grounded in or is supported by arguments developed and disseminated by eugenicists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In light of current local and global problems, further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a critical moment to revisit how widely diffused assumptions and attitudes linked to eugenics continue to implicitly and explicitly effect our world. 2021 provides an excellent reason to focus on how eugenics has been used and misused over the past century but still more importantly – especially in light of all immediate and emerging global concerns and injustices – to critically assess how eugenics continues to pervade/influence political, social and medical ideas, opinions and practices.

 

We are proposing an interinstitutional programme in September 2021, around the We Are Not Alone exhibition hosted by the Wiener Library, that looks to the centennial of the Second Eugenics Congress to build a platform on which the important discussions needed to addressing a resurgent interest in eugenics. Those groups who have been overtly targeted for eugenics segregation, exclusion, sterilization, institutionalization by modernist management norms will be first and foremost at the center of the work ahead. Through a citizen’s assembly we aim to explore how we empower and learn from the voice of those targeted by eugenics.

This will be shown Monday the 27th September through to Friday the 1st October, as part of Dismantling Eugenics conference.

Proposed programme...

In four sessions, the programme will use the structure of the 1921 Congress and transform it into a 21st century oppositional and transformative position. In 1921, four themes organised meeting content:

- Human and Comparative Heredity

- Eugenics, and family

- Human racial diversity

- Eugenics and the State

The ultimate aim of this project is to generate a clearer, informed collective statement of how to understand and address continuing and resurgent aspects of eugenics in the 21st century. This will be part of a final capstone roundtable discussion bringing to the table a summary of the discussions from the previous breakout group discussions, and generating a shared statement of intent and next steps.

Audiences will be split up into different breakout sessions, with each group representing a different protected characteristic. Led by a student community representative and scholar in the field, the group will then collectively explore a particular theme in depth and find a shared set of values or resolutions into addressing the legacy of eugenics in this particular subject matter moving forward.

 

Capstone roundtable discussion and shared statement of intent…

The representative leading these different discussions will then come together for a final roundtable discussion, using their statements as framing the discussion. Each representative in turn will share in turn what has been discussed and agreed upon, followed by a discussion. The actions/aims/resolutions will then be brought together and a shared statement of intent published and shared with all participants.

Schedule for Citizen Assembly participants...

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