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      The politics of human heredity in the USSR, 1920–1940

      Genome

      Canadian Science Publishing

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          Abstract

          After the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, Iurii Filipchenko (in Petrograd) and Nikolai Koltsov (in Moscow) created centers of genetic research where eugenics prospered as a socially relevant part of the new "experimental" biology. The Russian Eugenics Society, established in 1920, was dominated by research-oriented professionals. However, Bolshevik activists in the movement tried to translate eugenics into social policies (among them, sterilization) and in 1929, Marxist geneticist Alexander Serebrovsky was stimulated by the forthcoming Five-Year Plan to urge a massive eugenic program of human artificial insemination. With the advent of Stalinism, such attempts to "biologize" social phenomena became ideologically untenable and the society was abolished in 1930. Three years later, however, a number of eugenicists reassembled in the world's first institute of medical genetics, created by Bolshevik physician Solomon Levit after his return from a postdoctoral year in Texas with H. J. Muller. Muller himself moved to the Soviet Union in 1933, where he agitated for eugenics and wrote Stalin in 1936 to urge an artificial insemination program. Shortly thereafter, Muller left Russia, several of his colleagues were shot, and the Institute of Medical Genetics was disbanded. During the next three decades, Lysenkoists regularly invoked the Soviet eugenic legacy to claim that genetics itself was fascist.Key words: Russia, eugenics, human genetics, medical genetics, Lysenkoism, history, politics.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Genome
          Genome
          Canadian Science Publishing
          0831-2796
          1480-3321
          January 15 1989
          January 15 1989
          : 31
          : 2
          : 879-884
          Article
          10.1139/g89-155
          © 1989
          Product

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