Some might be interested in a conference session being held in Sydney, Australia this year titled Perlous Relations: Bioaesthetics and Eugenics. The session, which takes place July 12-14, will be part of the Together<>Apart conference—a conference which focuses “on the very broad idea of relations and relationships as well as allied terms such as collaborations, networks and partnerships.”
More about the conference can be found here.
And the abstract for the Perilous Relations session can be found after the break.
Perilous Relations: Bioaesthetics and Eugenics
Associate Professor Fae Brauer, The University of New South Wales
Associate Professor Anne Maxwell, The University of Melbourne
While recent histories of eugenics have exposed how extensively marriage
legislation, segregation and sterilization were institutionalized by modern nation states,
few have explored how eugenics functioned more subtly and insidiously through their
relationship to the art and culture of the body. Although posited as practices that
occurred separately from one another, by no means were they autonomous, let alone
innocuous. When viewed through the lens of Michel Foucault’s biopower, bioaesthetics
appeared to have acted as the perfect partner for inculcating eugenics in Australia, North
and South America, Britain, China, Japan and Europe – from France and Italy to
Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Turkey. Their mutually endorsing
and enhancing partnership was manifest by the absorption of eugenics into body cultures
and conversely, body cultures into Eugenic Societies, as demonstrated by Eugen Sandow’s
physical culture in Britain, La Culture Physique of Edmond Desbonnet in France, Belgium
and Switzerland, Bernarr McFadden’s Physical Culture Schools in America, and The Dupain
Institute of Physical Education and Medical Gymnastics opened in Sydney by George
Dupain. Their clandestine relationship was disclosed by the paintings and sculptures
portraying the fit body in International Eugenic Conferences and Exhibitions, Natural
History Museums, the Darwin Museum in Moscow, the German Hygiene Museum in
Dresden and the Great German Art Exhibitions.
By focusing upon these manifestations, this conference session seeks to illuminate
how eugenics was able to function as a bioaesthetic that was implicit not explicit,
dissuasive not didactic and, following Foucault’s theory of “docile bodies”, unofficial,
insidious and coercive. In unravelling the binary spawned between the eugenically
aestheticized body and the physiologically impaired one, as well as the “feeble-minded”,
ethnic minorities and indigenous people, this session also seeks to expose some of the
dire ramifications of these perilous relations.