Abstract

Historian Brian Greenwald offers a revisionist interpretation of Bell. He reviews Bell's role and influence within the American eugenics movement and shows that Bell had the respect of the most prominent American eugenicists. His intimate knowledge of deafness, from personal experience with his mother and wife and from his studies of deaf people on Martha's Vineyard, caused American eugenicists to defer to him on matters related to the deaf population. Greenwald argues, therefore, that Bell could have been extremely destructive to deaf people's right to marry and reproduce as they wished. The opportunity was available for Bell to advocate invasive government eugenic measures against the American deaf population, but he did not do so. Greenwald believes that several factors explain Bell's behavior, but he concludes that Bell's personal contact with deaf people throughout his life "humanized and personalized" his approach.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6263
Print ISSN
0302-1475
Pages
pp. 258-265
Launched on MUSE
2009-04-22
Open Access
No
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