Perspectives on the Eugenic Mind

25 May 2018

Presented by the ARC Laureate project ‘A Philosophy of Medicine for the 21st Century’ & the Politics, Governance and Ethics theme, Charles Perkins Centre.



Professor Robert A. Wilson
Professor of Philosophy
Department of Politics and Philosophy
LaTrobe University
Author of The Eugenic Mind Project, MIT Press 2018
Co-Director of Surviving Eugenics

Professor Lynette Russell
President, Australian Historical Association
Director, Monash Indigenous Studies Centre
Monash University
Author of Hunt Them, Hang Them: 'the Tasmanians' in Port Phillip 1841-42, 2016, Justice Press
Professor Evelleen Richards
Honorary Professor of History and Philosophy of Science
School of History and Philosophy of Science
The University of Sydney
Author of Darwin and the Making of Sexual Selection
University of Chicago Press, 2017

A/Professor Hans Pols
Associate Professor of History and Philosophy of Science
School of History and Philosophy of Science
The University of Sydney
Author of Nurturing Indonesia: Medicine and Decolonisation in the Dutch East Indies. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Dr Adam Hochman
Lecturer in Philosophy and Macquarie University Research Fellow
Macquarie University
Representative publications:
‘Replacing Race: Interactive Constructionism about Racialized Groups’ Ergo, 2017
‘Race: Deflate or Pop?’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 2016

Part science and part social movement, eugenics emerged in the late nineteenth century as a tool for human improvement. In response to perceived threats of criminality, moral degeneration, feeble-mindedness, and “the rising tide of color,” eugenic laws and social policies aimed to better the human race by regulating reproductive choice through science and technology. In his new book The Eugenic Mind Project, Rob Wilson examines eugenic thought and practice — from forced sterilization to prenatal screening — drawing on his experience working with eugenics survivors.

Using the social sciences’ standpoint theory as a framework to understand the intersection of eugenics, disability, social inclusiveness, and human variation, Wilson focuses on those who have lived through a eugenic past and those confronted by the legacy of eugenic thinking today.  By doing so, he brings eugenics from the distant past to the ongoing present. In this symposium Australian scholars offer their perspective on eugenics, its history and its contemporary relevance.


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Event details

Perspectives on the Eugenic Mind

Where The Refectory
Holme Building
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006
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25 May 2018

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