Launching the Legacies of Eugenics project

Legacies of Eugenics project website December 2019

The subject of eugenics is back on the agenda for historians of science. I’ve been involved in the UCL Inquiry on the history and legacies of eugenics within that institution. My academic department has reviewed the range of its teaching in the subject. I’ve organised a new UCL module, Eugenics in Science and Culture. I’ve supervised several recent student projects. I’ve done some writing and blogging about it recently, and I’ve given some talks about Karl Pearson. Through STS Occasional Papers, I’ve also seen through the production of a new facsimile edition of Lynsday Farrall’s superb thesis on history of English eugenics in the first two decases of the twentieth century (download pdf free)

Meanwhile, there are increasing efforts to create new research networks and new engagement opportunities. A workshop and Wikithon are in the planning stages, too.

The culmination of this work is that in November 2019 I received special project funding from UCL President and Provost Professor Michael Arthur to increase research capacity in this area. He’s awarded me funds to hire a postdoctoral research fellow for two years, plus funds to support workshops and public engagement activities.

Legacies of Eugenics project

To pull together these many strands, I’m launching a new “Legacies of Eugenics” project. This will be run through my academic department, UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS). I’ll serve as project director. It’s early days now, but as the project grows, we’ll certainly expand in people, scope, and topics.

Legacies of Eugenics will be a research and engagement project focusing on the history and legacies of eugenics in the United Kingdom. The starting point is history and legacies of eugenics at UCL. This project is not part of the UCL Inquiry, which completes its mission in the first quarter of 2020.

Initial project aims

  1. investigate the history of eugenics research in UK universities, starting with UCL
  2. investigate the history of eugenics education, both formal and informal, as an instance of public engagement with science