Chapter

The Eugenic Atlantic: Disability and the Making of an International Science

in Cultural Locations of Disability

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780226767314
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226767307 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226767307.003.0004
The Eugenic Atlantic: Disability and the Making of an International Science

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This chapter folds the cultural location of disability into the cross national equation. Although discriminatory practices against racial populations are not identical with those enacted on disabled people within the eugenics period, eugenic ideology nonetheless exhibited racist components, and racist ideologies can tell us something about the cultural construction of disability. By the end of the eighteenth-century racial and disability ideologies buttressed beliefs about the inferiority of both populations. By drawing upon Gilroy's emphasis on transatlantic traffic in racial thinking as a site to include comparative discussions of disabled peoples, the chapter offers some parallels between race and disability as dehumanizing formations. In identifying a “Eugenic Atlantic,” it also refers to Gilroy's analysis of cultural crossings in order to recognize the social construction of marginalized populations designated by virtue of their presumed biologically based inferiorities. The analysis of a “Eugenic Atlantic” seeks to fold disability and race into a mutual project of human exclusion based upon scientific management systems successively developed within modernity.

Keywords: disability; Eugenic Atlantic; eugenic ideology; cultural construction; race; scientific management system

Chapter.  10814 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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