This paper examines the eugenic beliefs of members of the English-speaking medical profession during the first three decades of this century. It is based on an analysis of two dominant eugenic discourses, those of 'feeblemindedness' and motherhood, uncovered in South Africa 's first medical journal, The South African Medical Record, published from 1903 to 1926. Interrogating these discourses serves as an entry point into past processes of change and struggle which were underway in social relations in pre-apartheid modern South Africa. Medical eugenists shared a number of fundamental assumptions: all demonstrated a concern with the health of the white 'race', and a fear of lower class whites (mainly Afrikaners). They saw a necessary relationship between the health of the population, the role of women as 'mothers of the nation' and the health of the South African state. Consequently, they believed it was their duty to intervene in social relations, including both the public realm of policy development and the private realm of sexuality and reproduction.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science