CFP: New Formations: Eugenics (10/1/03; journal issue)

full name / name of organization: 
Angelique Richardson

Call for Papers

Carolyn Burdett and Angelique Richardson are seeking contributions for a
Special Issue of the journal New Formations on ŒEugenics¹.

The term eugenics was coined in the latter part of the nineteenth century by
Francis Galton, to describe an idea and an aspiration. The idea concerned
Galton¹s conviction that characteristics such as bodily health, mental
aptitude and moral quality are inherited. The aspiration was that a modern,
civilised society might and must find ways of regulating the processes of
reproduction in order to manage and improve the nation. If the impact of
eugenics on social policy during the first half of the twentieth century was
regarded by enthusiasts as disappointingly limited, eugenic thinking, with
its associated ideas of degeneration, was nevertheless pervasive in the

Towards the end of the twentieth century, in 1997, investigative journalism
sparked controversy about the persistence of eugenic practice long after its
supposed demise with the defeat of Nazism. Sweden, a state seen by many as
exemplary for its socialistic welfare arrangements, had carried out
programmes of coercive sterilization for 40 years, ending only in 1976. The
Swedish women who had undergone sterilization as a condition of gaining
welfare, or to avoid prison, were not unique targets of such state
intervention, however. Evidence of similar coercive sterilization regimes
emerged in Austria, France, Finland, Norway and Switzerland; in Virginia,
USA, the Lynchburg colony made famous for its test-case sterilizations based
on law passed in the 1920s, continued its work until the 1970s.

While the outcry occasioned by the revelations about Sweden, for example,
suggests that the image of a state-organised eugenics was not generally
acceptable by the end of the twentieth century, eugenic ideas nonetheless
persist and find new forms. This is most striking in the technical
revolutions associated with reproductive technologies, where eugenics is
often couched in the language of rights. In recent years, a Œnew eugenics¹
has emerged as a central part of health and commodity culture in the form of
human biotechnology, including donor insemination, prenatal diagnosis of
genetic diseases and disorders, in vitro fertilization, cloning, and genetic
engineering. Michel Foucault deemed eugenics one of Œthe two great
innovations in the technology of sex of the second half of the nineteenth
century¹; it was ­ and remains, after Watson and Crick, - a peculiarly
significant language of modernity.

This Special Issue seeks to explore the development and continuing
importance of eugenics from its inception in the latter part of the
nineteenth century to today. It aims specifically to analyse and explore the
cultural forms eugenic thinking takes and the cultural impact it makes. The
editors aim to produce an inter- and multi-disciplinary discussion about
eugenics and thus welcome contributions from a range of disciplinary areas,
including literature, film, cultural studies, visual culture, history of
science, and the social sciences. Contributions may take the form of short
pieces (2-3,500 words) or more substantial essays (to a maximum of 7,000

Possible topics may include:
discourses on the natural; reproductive technologies; the language of
rights; commodity culture and the human body; eugenics and the individual.

This is an initial Call for Papers: please send an abstract (300-500 words;
in Word) or a draft to: or
The deadline for abstracts or drafts is October 1st 2003.

On New Formations
New Formations has established a reputation nationally and internationally
as Britain's most significant interdisciplinary journal of culture, politics
and theory. It brings new and challenging perspectives of cultural analysis
to bear on the cutting edge of politics. Always at the forefront of
intellectual debate, New Formations has covered issues ranging from the
seduction of perversity to questions of nationalism and postcolonialism.
New Formations brings together both established and new writers from many
walks of critical life. Previous contributors include: Parveen Adams, Ien
Ang, Susan Buck-Morss, Homi Bhabha, Victor Burgin, Iain Chambers, Joan
Copjec, Jacques Derrida, Simon Frith, Paul Gilroy, Sue Golding, Doreen
Massey, Kobena Mercer, Meaghan Morris, Christopher Norris, John Rajchman,
Kevin Robins, Gillian Rose, Jacqueline Rose, Lynne Segal, Robert Young, and
Slavoj Zizek.

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Received on Wed Jul 30 2003 - 18:29:40 EDT