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Eugenics; In the Name of Progress - Part I by Brauna, Grzegorza

Striving for perfection of humankind by erasing all differences and flaws sounds to many of us as dangerous and unethical. The image of crazy scientists conducting unsettling experiments in order to create the perfect human being looks like something out of a science fiction book. Less than a century ago however, eugenics was commonly practiced in Europe and the United States. The first part of this informative but nonetheless disturbing documentary focusses on the eugenics research by famous scientists Galton and Davenport. Historians and genetic scientists give their interesting views on the first decades of eugenics.

Scientific Relevance
The biosocial movement called eugenics involves improving human hereditary traits by promoting higher reproduction of more desired people and traits, and reducing reproduction of less desired people and traits. Inspired by Charles Darwins theory in evolution, famous scientist Sir Francis Galton developed eugenics in the late 19th century. His work on eugenics was the foundation for US eugenics programmes such as the one lead by Charles Davenport in Cold Spring Harbour, mentioned in this film.

Social Interest
The eugenics social movement had its heydays in the early 1920s. Many countries had a policy involving the promotion and practice of eugenics which could include racial segregation, birth control, forced sterilization. Also, Hitler was known to be inspired by eugenics and the genocide inflicted by Nazi Germany has been connected to eugenics. The popularity of eugenics declined drastically after the Second World War. Nowadays, eugenics is known for its massive human rights violations, such as violations of privacy and reproductive rights, violation on the right to live and discrimination.

Brauna, Grzegorza
Copyright Holder
Television Poland
31 min.
Year of release
Polish, English

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