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Galton, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Anglo-Saxon Nativism

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Francis Galton was a key developer and promoter of eugenics in Britain, circa 1900. This included patronage of research and posts at University College. Fast-forward a century. Galton and eugenics have become deeply politicised along the fault-line of “race,” and UCL executives are asked to explain why their institution “celebrates” an individual who activity promoted schemes to harm fellow citizens and who sought to organise the state to only serve the aspirations (or fantasies) of self-selecting, middle class, nativist Anglo-Saxons. In this presentation I will raise some of the questions I’ve seen arising thus far in recent discussions about Galton and his “legacy,” including: self-interested patronage, naïve empiricism, legacy with dissociative identities, empathy-supplied apathy, defensive heritage management, and more. The aim will be a provocation into a discussion: how do we reference the past so as to better move ourselves forward as a community?


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