Ph.D Candidate, Department of History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University
2018 to 2019
Liberation Eugenics: African Americans and the Science of Black Freedom Struggles, 1890-1970
This dissertation analyzes black eugenics, which I define as a hereditarian approach to racial uplift that emphasized social reform, reproductive control, and public health as strategies of biological racial improvement. It emerged from a longer tradition of black political organizing for racial equality and the beginnings of black engagement with medicine and science, especially as greater educational opportunities became available in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I argue that black eugenics is a set of iterations of black engagement with racial science and hereditarian thought across the twentieth century. African American physicians, biologists, social scientists, and others across different social strata mobilized a eugenics without racism to argue for racial equality. Using a broad set of archival material, institutional records, African American periodicals, and African American newspapers, this dissertation will track the evolution and transformation of black eugenics, and its relationship to black politics.
Read more about Ayah's work here.