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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article traces what catalyzed the ideas of eugenic policies, what gave them weight in an increasingly precise scientific environment. It draws an explicit link between this interest and the development of eugenics. It presents the association between the emergence of anthropology and a growing interest in dying race theory. It provides the basic concepts of the term “savage” as it seems to have become widespread. The idea of the savage fed assumptions that are discussed here under eugenics relate to topics such as reproductive capacity, the idea of generational throwbacks, and crucially what role the environment plays in promoting or preventing development. The article thus reflects an older anxiety about environment rather than heredity, thus destabilizing not only the twin powers of civilization and colonialism, but also the new hereditarian orthodoxy out of which eugenics was born and is growing.

Keywords: eugenic policies, anthropology, savage, colonialism, environment

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