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Unearthing the roots of eugenics

Join Marius Turda as he explores how the pseudoscience of eugenics has deep roots in our society

A poster used at the Second and the Third International Congresses of Eugenics (1921, 1932)
Wellcome Collection

Event description

A large tree with strong roots, each representing a scientific discipline, is a classic image of eugenics. The accompanying note is clear: 'Like a tree, eugenics draws its materials from many sources and organizes them into an harmonious entity.'

Join medical historian Marius Turda, as he explores the roots of the pseudoscience of eugenics. He will argue that the longevity of eugenics, is due not just to its promise of drawing together scientific and social theories, but also the credibility it was given by the scientific elite – notably Francis Galton in the 1860s and 1870s. 

After the Holocaust, the tree was denuded of its branches, but its roots remained buried deep, embedded in our society, culture and politics. They continued to provide sustenance to various social, economic, and educational policies across the world. Marius will argue that the time has come to cut down this tree and remove its global roots. The personal and collective reckoning with the legacies of eugenics can then begin.

This event is organised in partnership with journalist Angela Saini and the 'Challenging Pseudoscience' group at the Royal Institution.

Event type

This is a theatre event, where the speaker and audience are together in our theatre.

This event will not be livestreamed.

Please note that we are following Government and Public Health England advice, as we have been throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to review our approach as that guidance changes.

At the moment we are asking event attendees to continue following steps to make the Ri Covid-secure, such as wearing a face covering.

About the speaker

Marius Turda is professor at Oxford Brookes University and Director of its Centre for Medical Humanities. His main research interests include history of eugenics, scientific racism, history of anthropology and history of medicine. He has published a number of books on the history of eugenics, including Modernism and Eugenics, Latin Eugenics in Comparative Perspective and The History of East-Central European Eugenics: Texts and Commentaries. He is the general editor of A Cultural History of Race, published in 6 volumes by Bloomsbury in 2021. He has also produced a podcast series on the current relevance of eugenics and curated two exhibitions, including the forthcoming 'We are not alone': Legacies of Eugenics at the Wiener Holocaust Library (21-30 September 2021).



Doors to the theatre will open for our in-person audience at 6.30pm The event will begin at 7.00pm. 

For those attending in-person, please arrive in good time as there may be a wait to be seated according to social distancing rules.