For many decades, the history and legacy of eugenics have been subjects of investigation by historians and philosophers of science. In February 2020, University College London’s Commission of Inquiry to Investigate the History of Eugenics at UCL is due to report its findings. Experts in the history and philosophy of science community are in an important position to reflect on the report. This is a call for participation in a one-day workshop to digest and reflect upon this Inquiry’s report, and a one-day Wikithon to expand resources about the subject in Wikipedia.
These events are not part of the Inquiry’s work; they are part of a longer term Legacies of Eugenics project in UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS), directed by Professor Joe Cain.
Those of us in groups judged low by eugenics policies and advocates are especially welcome to contribute.
Conference organisers will be happy to discuss adjustments to facilitate inclusion by those who sometimes find participation difficult, whatever the reason. For example, speaker timings might be adjusted to suit those with caring responsibilities; and solutions for specific access requirements can be investigated. We also will have methods for participation-at-a-distance for those with concerns about the sustainability of conference travel or with difficulties participating in large groups.
Thanks to small amounts of funding, we will be able to contribute to the travel and accommodation expenses for those delivering panel presentations.
Our top priority for the programme is to devote time for reflecting on the historical and philosophical dimensions of the Inquiry’s report and for engaging issues of evidence and analysis. It’s certainly true there is much to say about current issues involving eugenics and contemporary intersectional themes. Much more. The decision to focus attention for this workshop is the responsibility of the organisers. It’s a function of our own professional encounter with this subject. The Legacies project is a long-term one, and we currently are seeking funds to support a series of workshops so we can engage the much wider breadth of eugenics as a subject. We very much are open to discussing the scope of future activities knowing this workshop is one step on a long path.
1. Workshop at UCL Bloomsbury Campus on 01 May 2020
The purposes of the workshop will be:
- to digest and reflect upon the Inquiry’s historical and philosophical (not only ethical) findings,
- to present complimentary research about eugenics investigations and advocacy previously undertaken at UCL and University of London,
- to contribute to the construction of context for activity at UCL, such as historical context across other universities or knowledge networks, or philosophical context across issues of categorization, empowerment, or responsibility.
- use concepts and practice in history and philosophy of science to further inform the ongoing discussion about the legacy of eugenics. For instance, What is a “legacy”? What is “agency” and “responsibly” in subjects such as this? How might we understand “consequence”?
Want to Contribute to the Workshop?
Participation may take one of several forms:
- contribute presentation in a panel – presentations will take the form of commentaries or papers of up to 20 minutes, followed by discussions with the audience. Each speaker will be asked to produce a publishable summary essay of their reflections, considered in light of workshop discussions, for posting on the workshop website.
- contribute a YouTube reflection – specific guidance will be provided on the website on or before 01 March 2020. In sum, we invite 5-minute video or audio presentations within the scope of this workshop. Selected presentations will be included on the workshop programme (that is, screened in the room), with time made available for discussion. These, and selected others, will be posted on the workshop’s YouTube channel and made publicly available.
- contribute a blog entry – specific guidance will be provided on the workshop’s website on or before 01 March 2020. In sum, we invite the submission of reflections, in the form of an essay up to 2,000 words and 3 images, for posting on the workshop website as publicly available blog posts. Discussion of those available in advance will be included in the workshop programme.
Individuals proposing a contribution through any of these formats must meet a deadline of 09 April 2020 to submit materials. Specific instructions are available.
UCL policies governing external speakers will apply to all contributions in this workshop.
Registration to attend is free but required, as space is limited. Use Eventbrite.
2. Wikithon at UCL Bloomsbury Campus on 02 May 2020
Our one-day workshop will be followed by a one-day Wikithon (aka, an “edit-a-thon”) in which speakers, attendees, and other experts will be invited to update, refine, and expand open access resources on Wikipedia relevant to the history and legacy of eugenics. We’ll also identify materials for an open access reading list about history and legacies of eugenics for use by students and researchers.
What’s a Wikithon? This New Yorker story describes an example of what and why. Wikithons have become impactful tools for reducing gaps in coverage over Wikipedia’s massive network of information. Examples include the annual Women in STEM Wikithon, the US Making Mobile Gov series, and the annual Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon.
The editorial rules for these events are defined by Wikipedia.
Want to Contribute to the Wikithon?
We are holding our Wikithon on the UCL Bloomsbury Campus, with most contributors in the room. It will be possible to coordinate contributions from a distance, but experience shows that most of the highly impactful work is developed in the room.
We’ll provide specific information on logistics and registration before the end of March 2020. No submission of materials prior to the event is requested.