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Defectives in the LandDisability and Immigration in the Age of Eugenics$
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Douglas C. Baynton

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226364162

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226364339.001.0001

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(p.11) 1 Defective
Defectives in the Land

Douglas C. Baynton

University of Chicago Press

Chapter one lays the groundwork for what follows by arguing that the exclusion of defective immigrants during these years was the primary concern of restrictionists. Race was of lesser importance, and was itself defined in terms of defect. The concept of “selection,” adapted from animal breeding and evolutionary science played a central role in eugenics rhetoric. The eugenic selection of worthy citizens occurred along two main tracks. The one most vividly associated in the public imagination with the eugenics movement was the curtailment of reproduction by undesirable citizens through institutionalization, sterilization, marriage laws, and public education campaigns. Of at least equal importance was the other main track of eugenic selection, the restriction of immigration by means of screening immigrants for defects.

Keywords:   defective, eugenics, race, selection, restriction, historiography

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