The Dittrick Medical History Center will host Rana Hogarth, associate professor of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, for the lecture Anton and Rose Zverina Lecture.
Hogarth will present “The Shadow of Slavery and the Measure of Miscegenation in American Eugenics” Thursday, Feb. 16, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. via Zoom.
Slavery and its afterlives played a much larger role in the development of scientific opinions about the physical and intellectual fitness of mixed race people with Black ancestry (i.e. “mulattoes”) than has been acknowledged in histories of eugenics in the United States. Indeed, fears around race mixing that would later consume eugenicists in the early decades of the 20th century were already entrenched within white American society in the eras of slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction.
This talk examines the ways in which eugenicists employed scientific tools to measure the physical and intellectual abilities of so-called “Black and white racial hybrids.” As it draws attention to how eugenicists framed research questions about mixed race people’s bodies, this talk also traces the genealogy of the term “miscegenation,” and explores the process through which eugenicists made Blackness a legible biological trait through their studies of skin color, hair texture and facial features.