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“This May Be the Most Dangerous Thing Donald Trump Believes”: Eugenic Populism and the American Body Politic

Susan Currell

Pages 291 - 302



This publication is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives 4.0. (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

The 2016 election of a self-declared eugenicist to the most powerful political role in the world signified a widespread and worrying forgetting of America’s eugenic past. This essay shows how America’s current president employs similar rhetorical and fictive devices to those employed by eugenicists and politicians in the 1920s and 1930s, strategies that he now uses to fuel his supremacist fantasies. By linking up Trump’s lifelong belief in his genetic superiority (and thereby the apparent “truth” of eugenics more broadly) with earlier eugenic beliefs of the 1920s and 1930s, this paper explores how, despite being scientifically discredited, eugenics steadfastly remained a popular ideological staple of American meritocratic and supremacist belief.

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