International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology

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WEDNESDAY, JULY 8  /  15:30 - 17:00  /  DS-R520
Organized session / diverse format
"Surviving Eugenics" (2015). Documentary film screening and discussion

Robert A. Wilson (University of Alberta, Canada)

In 1996, Leilani Muir won a landmark legal case against the Canadian province of Alberta for wrongful sterilization and confinement at the Provincial Training School in Red Deer, an institution for "mental defectives". Surviving Eugenics is a documentary about the history and ongoing significance of eugenics in Canada. Anchored by survivor narratives from Leilani and four other eugenics survivors from Alberta, and drawing on expert testimony from those involved in the case, Surviving Eugenics provides a unique insiders' view of eugenic history. In doing so, the film raises broader questions about disability, human variation, and contemporary North American society.

This recently released, 44-minute documentary film is designed for classroom use in both high school and university in a wide variety of courses, and covers topics at the intersection of the history, philosophy, and social studies of biology. It was developed over the past two years as part of the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada project ( ). This screening will provide an opportunity to discuss both eugenics and the socially-engaged approach to the teaching the history and philosophy of biology and its contemporary significance. Discussion will be led by one of the film's co-directors and executive producer.