Richard Cleminson
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Early discourse on eugenics within transnational anarchism, 1890–1920
in Anarchism and eugenics
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In Chapter 3, the reception of early eugenic ideas within the anarchist movements of England, France, Portugal, Spain and Argentina over the years 1890–1920 is discussed against the backdrop of social and political developments within these different societies and within the eugenics movement itself. It discusses the ways in which early interest in neo-Malthusianism and the environmentally focused theory of Lamarckism configured the early anarchist reception of eugenic thought. The main emphasis in the chapter is placed on the vehicles by which eugenic thought arrived in anarchist movements and on the specific ways in which these ideas were digested in order to justify and articulate ‘anarchist eugenics’. The period covered in Chapter 3 ends with the First World War and its immediate aftermath. This was a fault line period in the reconfiguration of neo-Malthusian thought and its transformation, in the anarchist movement, particularly in France, into explicit support for eugenics. The chapter emphasises the varied and contested reception of eugenic thought within anarchism, in accordance with locality, mechanisms of international knowledge exchange, chronology and type of anarchism, whether syndicalist or individualist.

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Anarchism and eugenics

An unlikely convergence, 1890–1940


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