White Trash: The Eugenic Family Studies, 1877-1919

Nicole Hahn Rafter

Published by Northeastern, 1988
ISBN 10: 1555530303 / ISBN 13: 9781555530303
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Synopsis: From the inside dust jacket: White Trash makes an important contribution to the history of science by bringing together, for the first time, a group of historically influential texts and dealing with them as a genre. The family studies were central to the eugenics movement that so powerfully shaped the intellectual and social landscape of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Early statements of what today is known as a sociobiology, these studies fo groups with names suck as Jukes, Nams, Kallikaks, and Zeros claimed to have identified families with inferior genes. According to the authors, these degenerate clans transmitted through the generations a host of socially undesirable traits including alcoholism, crime, feeble-mindedness, "pauperism," sexual promiscuity, and even loquacity. In her extensive introduction, Nicole Hahn Rafter analyzes what the family studies reveal about the social construction knowledge, using them to examine ways in which information is created, received, and used, and she discusses the contribution of the family studies to the ideology of eugenics and to social policy. She also explores the reasons why the studies, produced over five decades by authors from background as diverse as biology and the ministry, consistently singled out as the rural poor - the "white trash" of the book's title - as threats to the American gene pool. Each of the eleven studies reprinted in the book is preceded by a headnote that identifies its place in the evolution of the genre. Given the current interest in the history of science, in sociobiology, and in issues such as the heritability of intelligence, the family studies cannot be dismissed as ideological aberrations or sociological folklore. They raise fundamental questions about the relationship between biology and society and the meaning of evolution, and they are fascinating reading for anyone with an interest in social history, criminology, or the interplay between science and society.

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Title: White Trash: The Eugenic Family Studies, ...
Publisher: Northeastern
Publication Date: 1988
Book Condition: Good
Edition: y First printing.

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