A history of eugenics told through buildings
Last week I was lucky enough to go to the Association of Heritage Interpretation annual conference, this year in Chester.
Three days. Lots of talks. Some not so good. Some amazing.
By far the best one I saw was by Subhadra Das from University College London. Das is a museum curator of UCL’s science collection and her talk, 'Bricks + Mortals', centred of the, now, little known Victorian scientist Francis Galton.
Galton was the first person to recognise that we all have unique fingerprints – in itself, not an insignificant contribution to the world – but he did loads more. He also invented and gave name to eugenics, the science of improving the genetic quality of a human population. Some, including Das, have described this as ‘the science of racism’ and for good reason. Back in the 1800s University College effectively legitimised this science which was, you will not be surprised to hear, adopted by the Nazis and has over the years fallen (or been pushed) into obscurity – although Galton had his disciples and UCL have a building named after him. If you listen to the podcast below you'll here about more well known names connected to eugenics.
Das has made it her mission to tell the story of Galton and his science, dragging it out of its hiding place (in plain site). So in that spirit, I thought I’d share a couple of links with you. Not exactly her talk from last week but a TEDx talk she did that includes quite a lot of her talk (and is also a bit different)…and below that…
…the UCL web page that is all about her exhibition ‘Bricks + Mortals’, and includes a podcast you should listen to (that is actually her talk and more). That's here.