Eugenics and Citizenship

In Leora Auslander’s ‘National Taste’? she explains how the German and French populations addressed questions about the conceptions of citizenship by examining the tastes and preferences of various citizens within specific regions and also the nation-state as a whole. Although each country had its own unique concept of citizenship; the French interpreted citizenship using a just soli policy (citizenship determined by region of birth), whereas in Germany citizenship was determined by ancestral lineage and blood lines, both cultures developed their own “language of goods.” This “language of goods” enabled citizens to look beyond the mere race or appearance of a person and instead focus on their material possessions to gain a cohesiveness between distinct social groups and form a national identity. The Jewish populations were oftentimes ostracized and blamed for many of the misfortunes that proceeded WWI without just cause. In reality they were not culturally different from the non-jewish citizens, they were incorporated into either German or French societies, forming a part of the nation-state and adopting the accepted customs.  

In chapter four of Dan Stone’s Breeding Superman he examines the relationship between race and social class that existed in British eugenic theory throughout the interwar period. The racial component of eugenics has always existed, however Britain has been traditionally viewed as a government that focused primarily on the social components of eugenics while disregarding that of race. Stone explains how this is a misconception because the reality is that the racial and social components are inseparable. Many British officials believed in a racial hierarchy that saw white Europeans at the top and black Africans at the bottom. While policy makers sought to boost their respective populations, they wished to do so in a manner that limited the reproduction of the unproductive and parasitic social classes, and the ‘inferior races’ as well. The Nazi government of the Third Reich is singled out for their racist policies, and although they implemented these policies to an extreme degree, they were by no means the only country to do so. It was a common practice throughout most of Europe.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Eugenics and Citizenship

  1. Good post. I think you hit the point of each book. Although maybe a quick quote or two from the book might help. When you mentioned most “white” British officials felt like they were on top and others on the bottom, was that a continuous trend from before the first World War? And how was that racial thought seen from the population?

  2. I think this post does a great job of connecting the two readings and giving a good description of both. I think the author could expand more on his ideas and do more of a compare and contrast with the two readings. There isn’t a clear thesis or conclusion to your blog.

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