"Crafting a Healthy Nation: Eugenic Texts and Biopolitical Practices"

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Marius Turda

(Oxford Brookes University)

"Crafting a Healthy Nation: Eugenic Texts and Biopolitical Practices"


Paper presented to the conference:

"Crafting Humans: From Genesis to Eugenics and Beyond"

8-10 September 2011, Queens College, Oxford


Second Annual Conference of the Berendel Foundation, in association with the Centre for health Medicine and Society and History of Race and Eugenics Research Group at Oxford Brookes University, the University of Oxford, and the Wellcome Trust



With the onset of modernity in the eighteenth century, there emerged new narratives and ways of thinking not only about the state but also about the nation. The state became the embodiment of agencies and institutions concerned with the health of the population; whilst the nation was seen and valued as biologically adaptable, capable of being improved through eugenic technologies of social and biological selection. In this paper I work with two conceptually related strategies: the first places eugenics and modernity in a reciprocal relationship; the second studies the way in which biopolitical ideas worked towards the ideal of the eugenically crafted nation, particularly in the period between 1918 and 1944. The final aim of this paper is to highlight the importance of biopolitical and eugenic arguments when discussing modernity’s dominant cultural ideals.


Short Bio:Marius Turda is Reader in Central and Eastern European Biomedicine, Oxford Brookes University. His current areas of research are mainly history of ideas and medicine, with a particular focus on eugenics, biopolitics and race. Recent publications include Modernism and Eugenics (Palgrave, 2010) and Health, Hygiene and Eugenics in Southeastern Europe to 1945 (CEU Press, 2011). At the moment he is completing a history of Hungarian eugenics.



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