Abstract

This article investigates the exhibit of the Third International Congress of Eugenics, which was organized by Harry Hamilton Laughlin and showcased at the American Museum of Natural History in 1932. It argues that the exhibit's displays shaped popular eugenic ideology by connecting particular eugenic principles to specific visual representations that were experienced in relation to binaries such as the artistically traditional and the modern, the classical and the grotesque, and the scientific and the spectacle (or the "freak" and the medical specimen). These dichotomies were, in turn, experienced within the context of the exhibit's overall theme of eugenics as anchored in the past and the future and concern over the differential birthrate. The exhibit to the Third Congress provides insight into growing tensions within the eugenics movement of the 1930s, the importance of positive eugenics, the aesthetics of heredity, and how the "scientific truths" of a given era are publicized and perpetuated.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3176
Print ISSN
0007-5140
Pages
pp. 206-236
Launched on MUSE
2012-09-19
Open Access
No
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