South Asia's Eugenic Past

Sarah Hodges

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780195373141
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199940417 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 South Asia's Eugenic Past

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The strong continuities between colonial eugenics agendas and postcolonial population control efforts are striking elements in the history of eugenics in South Asia. This article discusses the role of different strands within colonial eugenics—particularly neo-Malthusianism—at different points in time and in the region's different postcolonial nations. It mentions that eugenics in a poverty-stricken colonial context provides a powerful and enduring template for connecting reproductive behavior to the task of revitalizing the nation as a whole. This article relates the history of eugenics in colonial India with the history of birth control advocacy. It discusses in detail the eugenics associations that held public meetings and advocated contraceptive use. It provides an understanding of the relative insignificance of heredity to Indian eugenics in light of the conditions for the development of eugenic science in India.

Keywords: colonial eugenics; South Asia; birth control; history; neo-Malthusianism

Article.  6571 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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