American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism

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American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism
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Nancy Ordover argues that current attempts to regulate marginalized social groups are eugenicist movements couched in new language. While "today, the preoccupation with immigrant fertility is couched in concerns over expenditures rather than in classic eugenicist worries over the depletion of the national gene pool" (54), that supposed strain on the national economy presented by immigration is still located in immigrant's reproduction, although it is less frequently explicitly the "whiteness" of the nation that is threatened. This fear of reproduction by people cast as a drain on the nation is mirrored in attempts to control the bodies and
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The optimistic belief that the discovery of such a gene would naturalize homosexuality, and form a legal basis for equal rights has no merit when the "gay gene" is simply the newest incarnation of the pathologization of the queer body.

These debates create and reaffirm notions of who constitutes the nation, and who can be excluded. This "physical and ideological construction of the nation is a project that can never be completed, requiring constant monitoring and patrolling of literal and figurative borders" (6). Eugenics, she argues, employs and rationalizes "both 'inclusive' and 'exclusive' racism" (xv), exclusive racism being racism that attempts to eliminate marginalized or oppressed groups from the nation, and inclusive racism that which attempts to reify oppressive structures and hierarchies within the nation.

Eugenic arguments build on themselves, depending on already formed social hierarchies on which to base new ones. One eugenics advocate noted that "over 2,000,000 immigrants [are] below the average Negro" (26) on a series of IQ tests, the racist and eugenic history of which are well documented. The construction of African Americans as inferior served to further alienate immigrants from the nation, for they fell below what was actively constructed as the bottom of the American social

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