Mia Levenson

Ph.D. Student, Department of Theater and Performance Studies, Tufts University

2021 to 2022
Research Fellow

Eugenics and the Politics of Scientific Performance

This project investigates how eugenics became understood as “science” in the early twentieth century, and how the mass education efforts of eugenic scientists and various organizations produced, rehearsed, and circulated eugenic theory. In understanding these forms of community outreach as a public-facing performance, this project considers how embodiment and spectacle contributed to the propagation of eugenic thought across popular and scientific culture. Using the archival collections at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and American Philosophical Society, this project asks, how did eugenic scientists and organizations engage with local and national communities to disseminate eugenic science? How did eugenicists’ obsession with the visuality of heredity influence how they constructed their educational programs? How did these public performances reify eugenics as a scientific discipline? And how does the compounding of science, eugenics, and performance produce conditions of power and governance over spectators’ and participators’ bodies?