Eugenics and birth control in Johannesburg, 1930-40
nobler, more intelligent, energetic and healthier citizens of
the present should be the ancestors of future generations. 2 (H. B.
Fantham, from a lecture presented to the RaceWelfareSociety,
14 August 1930)
needs all the good children it can
The history and sociology of science has not been well developed in southern Africa as compared to India, Australia or Latin America. This book deals with case studies drawn from South Africa, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), Mozambique and Mauritius, and examines the relationship between scientific claims and practices, and the exercise of colonial power. European intellectuals saw in Africa images of their own prehistory and societal development. The book reveals the work of the Swiss naturalist and anthropologist Henri Junod. The relative status of Franco-Mauritian, Creoles and Indo-Mauritian peasants was an important factor in gaining knowledge of and access to canes. After the Boer War, science was one of the regenerating forces, and the British Association found it appropriate to hold its 1905 meetings in the Southern African subcontinent. White farmers in the Cape Colony in the late nineteenth century often greeted with suspicion the enumeration of livestock and crop. The book focuses on the connections between the apartheid state's capacity to count and to control. Apartheid statecraft included aspirations of totalising modes of racialised knowledge. Included in the theme of state rationality and techniques of domination is the specialized use of dogs by police in apprehending black alleged criminals. The book discusses the Race Welfare Society, which turned to eugenics for a blueprint on how to cultivate a healthy and productive white population. However, George Gale and Sidney and Emily Kark advocated socialised medicine, and had a genuine desire to promote the broad health needs of Africans.
expertise accumulated at the colonial
‘periphery’ was exported internationally.
In the case of Susanne Klausen’s study of the birth
control movement in 1930s’ South Africa, the ambiguous nature of
medical science is again highlighted. The RaceWelfareSociety, which
forms the focus of her study, was initially founded as part of a eugenic
effort to improve the racial qualities of the white race. Its membership
black urban proletariat were major South African eugenic
Fantham and Porter founded the RaceWelfareSociety (RWS)
in Johannesburg in 1930, three years before the formation of
Nairobi’s KSSRI: the Great Depression provided an impetus for
eugenic movements in the colonies as well as in Britain. The RWS seems
to have had a similar following to the KSSRI; both memberships largely
instance, the RaceWelfareSociety) were responsible for the first birth control clinics, they were not as successful as the ‘maternalists’, mostly middle-class and elite anglophone white women troubled by the high mortality rates related to botched abortions amongst low-income white women, but also the threat this posed to ‘white prestige’ in South Africa (Stoler, 2002 ). Though the concerns of the two differed, they were, in effect, together in the campaign for white supremacy and a modern white nation. The campaign to increase access to birth control was to prevent