Nicole Rehnberg (Santa Barbara): Racializing Redwoods: Staging “Big Trees” at the Second International Exhibition of Eugenics
Zeit: 19-21 Uhr
Vortrag von Nicole Rehnberg (Santa Barbara) im Berlin-Brandenburger Colloquium (BBC) für Umweltgeschichte im Sommersemester 2022
Veranstalter des BBC für Umweltgeschichte:
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin) in Kooperation mit dem Leibniz-Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung (ZZF Potsdam)
Organisation: Dr. Jan-Henrik Meyer (ZZF Potsdam), Dr. Astrid M. Kirchhof (HU Berlin)
In this talk, I explore the exhibition that followed the Second International Congress of Eugenics held at the American Museum of Natural History in 1921 and how organizers used “Big Trees” (Coast Redwoods and Giant Sequoias) as a symbol, method, and data to showcase and promote eugenic agenda. Genealogists and life scientists have used trees as a symbol of life and connections changing over time, as well as a methodological tool to make sense and order of life. Eugenicists were no exception.
Harry H. Laughlin and his assistant Alice M. Hellmer continued this practice and created the “Eugenics Tree” image in 1919, to assist in writing an article. The image featured “allied sciences” at the root of the tree, which showed how different disciplines naturally come together to create eugenics. Laughlin, head of the exhibition’s committee, used the image and its organizing logic to create the exhibition’s theme, “Eugenics and Allied Sciences,” and the organization of its 131 displays. One of the displays materialized the symbol and the method of trees by presenting research using Big Tree rings as data that proved climatic changes due to immigration created civilization decline. I argue that the use of Big Trees as symbol, method, and data at the Second International Exhibition of Eugenics illustrates how eugenics and conservation worked in tandem, not just contemporaneously, controlling landscapes and human bodies and, at times, used the same methods to do so.
Nicky Rehnberg is an environmental public historian and doctoral candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation, “White Roots, Redwoods: Racializing German and US Conservation, 1920-1945” examines how Coast Redwoods and Giant Sequoias were used transnationally as an object of racial science and a tool of white nationalism and white supremacy in the early twentieth century. It investigates how conservationists conflated forest and racial management in Germany and the US and shows the connections between conservation and eugenics, as it was literally displayed in natural history museums and public parks in Germany and the US. She is also a part of UCSB’s and California State Parks’ program History and Relevancy, in which she researches, writes, and creates programming on California history for the public.
Kontakt und Anmeldung
Per E-Mail bei:
Jan-Henrik Meyer: meyer [at] zzf-potsdam.de
Angemeldete Interessenten erhalten rechtzeitig den Teilnahme-Link zugesandt.
Dr. Jan-Henrik Meyer
Leibniz-Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam (ZZF)
Am Neuen Markt 1
E-Mail: meyer [at] zzf-potsdam.de
Dr. Astrid M. Kirchhof
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
E-Mail: astrid.m.kirchhof [at] hu-berlin.de