British interpretations of midnineteenth-century racial demographics
prove a leaven of social disorder and disorganisation. 73
Since Farr specifically mentioned
the possibility of cruelty he clearly understood the more sinister
implications of eugenics. But Farr believed that just as the nation
ought to take control of its own public health, the ‘biological
future’ was also subject to human control. 74 Reproduction, he thought, could and
as decency or harm). That is a fairly standard and in my view correct argument, but it sometimes mistakes the relevant terrain of dispute: many defenders of a particular speech act should instead be viewed as denying that the speech act in question is in fact racist.
This is because most if not all participants in the endless free speech debates do in fact think that some speech acts are indefensible, or racist to the point of inciting harm. An argument in favour of eugenics might not pass this threshold, but one advocating genocide probably would, for the
legacies of Victorian society continued into the twentieth century, though often in their darkest and most cynical forms. Theories of degeneration hardened into eugenics. Somatic theories led to horrific psychosurgeries that may never have been contemplated without late Victorian pessimism about asylum care. Alfred Fuller was placed under asylum care in October1867 by his mother. He was twenty-one and suffering his first attack of insanity. The illness came on suddenly, and the young man was apprehended by police in Bath as a wandering lunatic. He was described as always
, it was able to permeate a far broader section of Catholic
society. Compared with Germany, Catholic antisemitism in England
often had a discernible premodern element in it. From an examination of the use of religious and racial antisemitic stereotypes, where
the latter usually signifies more modern forms of Jew-hatred, it is
clear that the religious foundation was more important in England.
This could be seen in the fact that missionary work among the Jews
was warmly supported by lay Catholics in England. The diametrically
opposed attitude to eugenics in both
, constituted the predominant form of preventive health strategy in Britain in the first half of
the twentieth century (McKeown, 1979). However, two other preventive
strategies played a significant role in early British health policy: inoculation and eugenics. Introduced in 1840 as a voluntary measure, inoculation against smallpox was made compulsory for all infants in 1853
and for all under the age 14 in 1867. Although forced inoculation was
met with substantial resistance from various political, scientific, and
Christian groups (MacLeod, 1967a, 1967b), the new biopolitical
encompassed many aspects of the population question: the issue of space, world resources, food, population growth, eugenics, political economy and natural history, among others.
These international meetings paved the way for the increasing importance of conferences as spaces for knowledge acquisition and transfer across national borders. In the following decade, three international neo-Malthusian and birth control conferences took place: London (1922), New York (1925) and Zurich (1930). For the first time, birth control was included in the title
children were perceived by the government, and the general public, it is necessary to discuss some aspects of the
political and social climate. In the 1930s the belief that certain disabilities were
hereditary prevailed among many members of the government. The following
section discusses some of the ways in which those responsible for disabled
children addressed this belief.
The political and social climate
Perhaps the greatest challenge to disabled children (and adults) in the first half
of the twentieth century came from the eugenics movement, which came to
Transgender patients in early Swedish medical research
people on behalf of claims to social integration’ (15–16, my emphasis).
I begin by giving my interpretation of Foucault’s notion of ‘state racism’ as a biopolitical account of eugenics. I then move to examine the history of the Swedish, state-controlled diagnostic process of ‘transsexuality’ in the context of bioprecarity and intimate labour. I will also analyse how American sexology shaped the Swedish discourse. Finally, I will locate points of tension, disruption, intervention and resistance in the midst of bioprecarization.
‘Racism against the abnormal
of physical features, intelligence, religion and class
background. This paradigm was developed in response to the
turn-of-the-century eugenics movement, which was outspokenly
anti-adoption. From a eugenic point of view, it was irresponsibly risky
to import children from largely unknown family backgrounds into
successful, healthy middle-class families, where they could become a
liability as soon as
working class would require a signiﬁcant degree of economic
redistribution and educational reform.
Eugenics and equal opportunity
But this focus on equalising opportunities through redistribution and widening
educational access raised a difﬁcult question for the egalitarians of this period. To
what extent were the natural endowments of individuals ﬁxed by hereditary rather
than environmental factors, and what did this imply for public policy? As I will
discuss in the ﬁnal chapter of this book, egalitarians after the Second World War
faced a similar question. Inﬂuenced