What Does Eugenics Mean To Us? Episode 2: Curating Heads
Play • 30 mins

This episode documents and commemorates a collaborative research project at UCL, which brought together geneticists, historians, archaeologists and museum curators to consider how science mediates the dilemma of death. It was called Curating Heads and its scientific aims were to use the latest techniques in Ancient DNA analysis to sequence the genomes of two historic figures at UCL: the philosopher Jeremy Bentham and the archaeologist, William Matthew Flinders Petrie. The exhibition that grew out of this research showcased this work and also critically examined the legacies of eugenics in genetics and archaeology. Join Subhadra and her guests as they reminisce about the project and reflect on the benefits of collaborative and interdisciplinary work.

Transcript: www.ucl.ac.uk/racism-racialisation/transcript-what-does-eugenics-mean-us-episode-2

This conversation was recorded on 30th March 2021

Host: Subhadra Das, Critical Eugenics Researcher, UCL Sarah Parker Remond Centre

Guests: Alice Stevenson was Curator of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology during the run of this project. She is now Associate Professor in Museum Studies at UCL's Institute of Archaeology, and also the co-founder of a brilliant decolonial museum project called 100 Histories of 100 Worlds in 1 Object.

A historian and classicist by training, Debbie Challis was Audience Development at the Petrie Museum where her research, public programmes and exhibitions are seminal milestones in the history of critical eugenics at UCL. She is the author of The Archaeology of Race, and she is now Education and Outreach Officer at the London School of Economics Library. 

Mark Thomas is Professor of Evolutionary Genetics in the Research Department of UCL Genetics, Evolution and Environment. He is also UCL's ancient DNA researcher to the stars, having worked on aDNA projects on Richard III, and Charles Byrne (who was known as the Irish giant).

Tim Causer is Research Fellow at The Bentham Project based at UCL Laws, and as such one of UCL's go-to Bentham experts. Together with Professor Philip Schofield, Tim is an editor of Panopticon vs. New South Wales and Other Writings on Australia, a forthcoming collection of the works of Jeremy Bentham.

Producer: Cerys Bradley

Music: Blue Dot Sessions

The rest of the team behind Curating Heads, and its accompanying exhibition What Does It Mean to Be Human? were: Dr Elizabeth Dobson, Dr Lucy van Dorp, Dr Tom Booth and Dr Selina Hurley. Nick Booth was the Curator of the Auto-icon of Jeremy Bentham at the time of the project.



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