Genetic Histories and Liberties: Eugenics, Genetic Ancestries and Genetic Technologies in Literary and Visual Cultures

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Christina Lake
contact email: 

Call for Chapters for Edited Book

Genetic Histories and Liberties: Eugenics, Genetic Ancestries and Genetic Technologies in Literary and Visual Cultures

Gender and the Body Series, Edinburgh University Press

We invite chapters that examine the ways in which representations of the body and gender within literature and visual culture (including film, television, graphic novels, comics, and video games) from the eighteenth century to the present day have engaged with and challenged political, religious, cultural and social attitudes towards eugenics, genetic ancestries and genetic technologies

Chapter Proposal Submission Deadline: 1 November 2020

‘Eugenics, at its root, divides people into positive and negative groups,’ Kevin Begos. “Weak parents should not procreate. Because their children would inherit

their inferior qualities, they would have no strength to lead a meaningful life, or in any way contribute to the state.” Plato, The Republic

"Eugenics is the study of the agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations either physically or mentally." Francis Galton

It is often assumed that the eugenics propaganda and involuntary sterilisation programs of the early 20th century, aimed at those with physical and mental ‘defects’ ceased after World War II. However, unethical eugenic experimentation and practice aimed at the poor, the promiscuous, the illiterate, the sexually deviant, the dangerous and the incarcerated continued in countries such as America and Sweden during the 1960s  and  1970s.  Non-­‐consensual,  compulsory  sterilisations  and  coercive  eugenics state practices have continued in the 21st century.

Contemporary immigration controls aimed to exclude the entry of undesirable others into ‘near perfect societies’ and discourses of developing world overpopulation suggest that postwar social policy continues ideas and mechanisms incubated within the eugenics movement. Likewise, recent discourse in relation to COVID-­‐19 has highlighted discussions about the shameful history of unethical experimentation and surgery upon BAME communities and their pervasive mistrust of clinical research.

We welcome original chapters that address topic areas and questions such as:

  • ‘Eugenics’ (well born), ‘dysgenics’ (poor birth)
  • ‘Liberal’ eugenics and/or state sanctioned policies 
  • Beauty, health, morality, disability, utopian bodies
  • Sexual selection, sexual hygiene, birth control
  • Racial hierarchies, degeneration
  • Criminality, sexual ‘disorders’
  • Future bodies, cyborgs, transhumanism, post-‐sexuality
  • Epigenetics
  • Ectogenesis
  • Eugenics survivor narratives
  • Medical genetics and genetic engineering
  • Genetic inheritance, ancestral histories
  • Human futures: the body, sexuality, gender, race,
  • Ethics and human rights

How to Submit:

Chapter Proposal Submission Deadline: 1 November 2020. Please include (i) an abstract (no more than 200 words), (ii) a chapter proposal of 1,000 to 2,000 words clearly explaining the aims and concerns of your proposed chapter, (iii) a copy of your C.V. and (iv) your contact details.

Final Acceptance Notification: 1 February 2021 Full Chapter Submission Deadline: 1 April 2021

Guidelines for Submissions: Final chapter word length: 8,000 words max.

Contact Details: Please send your submissions to the editors Christina Lake and Helen Thomas at: