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Listen to a short interview with Matthew Connelly Host: Chris Gondek - Producer: Heron & Crane "Fatal Misconception" is the disturbing story of our quest to remake humanity by policing national borders and breeding better people. As the population of the world doubled once, and then again, well-meaning people concluded that only population control could preserve the "quality of life." This movement eventually spanned the globe and carried out a series of astonishing experiments, from banning Asian immigration to paying poor people to be sterilized. Supported by affluent countries, foundations, and non-governmental organizations, the population control movement experimented with ways to limit population growth. But it had to contend with the Catholic Church's ban on contraception and nationalist leaders who warned of "race suicide." The ensuing struggle caused untold suffering for those caught in the middle--particularly women and children. It culminated in the horrors of sterilization camps in India and the one-child policy in China. Matthew Connelly offers the first global history of a movement that changed how people regard their children and ultimately the face of humankind. It was the most ambitious social engineering project of the twentieth century, one that continues to alarm the global community. Though promoted as a way to lift people out of poverty--perhaps even to save the earth--family planning became a means to plan other people's families. With its transnational scope and exhaustive research into such archives as Planned Parenthood and the newly opened Vatican Secret Archives, Connelly's withering critique uncovers the cost inflicted by a humanitarian movement gone terribly awry and urges renewed commitment to the reproductive rights of all people.
When it comes to government's role in personal matters such as family planning, most bristle at any interference from the State on how to exercise their reproductive rights. China's infamous "one child" policy is a well-known example of reproductive politics, but history is filled with other examples of governmental population control to advance its interests. Reproductive States is the first volume of a collection of case studies that explores when and how some of the most populous countries in the world invented and implemented state population policies in the 20th century. The authors, scholars specializing in reproductive politics, survey population policies from key countries on five continents to provide a global perspective. Regardless of the type of government or its cultural history, many of these countries have developed similar policies to control their populations and attempt to combat social problems such as poverty and hunger. However, the common denominator is that states have used women's bodies as a political resource. Far from being just an overseas problem, this volume illustrates how other countries have developed their strategies in response to goals and tactics driven by the United Nations and the United States. Due to fears of a post-World War II "population bomb" and uncertainty of how to deal with the world's poor after the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union led the charge among nations to devise strategies to control their populations, but in different ways. The U.S. and some European countries pressed the poor and ethnic minorities to limit reproduction. China's "one child" policy targeted all ranks of society, while Soviet women (who already had few rights) were under surveillance through state-planned services such as medical care and commodity distribution to detect pregnancy. Interweaving biopolitics, gender studies, statecraft, and world systems, Reproductive States offer reflections on the outcome of such policies and their legacies in our day.
"Well written, broad-gauged, and just plain smart, The Right Kind of Revolution ably synthesizes, indeed moves beyond, the scholarship on American efforts to `improve' the Third World. The new standard work on American modernization and development policies, it has much to teach scholars and graduate students while still being suitable for use in undergraduate courses."---David Engerman, Brandeis University, author of Know Your Enemy: The Rise and Fall of America's Soviet Experts Development, and the Global Cold War and Knowledge and Postmodernism in Historical Perspective.
"Lianyungang, a booming port city, has China's most extreme gender ratio for children under four: 163 boys for every 100 girls. These numbers don't seem terribly grim, but in ten years, the skewed sex ratio will pose a colossal challenge. By the time those children reach adulthood, their generation will have twenty-four million more men than women. The prognosis for China's neighbors is no less bleak: Asia now has 163 million females "missing" from its population. Gender imbalance reaches far beyond Asia, affecting Georgia, Eastern Europe, and cities in the U.S. where there are significant immigrant populations. The world, therefore, is becoming increasingly male, and this mismatch is likely to create profound social upheaval. Historically, eras in which there have been an excess of men have produced periods of violent conflict and instability. Mara Hvistendahl has written a stunning, impeccably-researched book that does not flinch from examining not only the consequences of the misbegotten policies of sex selection but Western complicity with them"--
There was a time when humanity looked in the mirror and saw something precious, worth protecting and fighting for—indeed, worth liberating. But now, we are beset on all sides by propaganda promoting a radically different viewpoint. According to this idea, human beings are a cancer upon the Earth, a horde of vermin whose aspirations and appetites are endangering the natural order. This is the core of antihumanism. Merchants of Despair traces the pedigree of this ideology and exposes its pernicious consequences in startling and horrifying detail. The book names the chief prophets and promoters of antihumanism over the last two centuries, from Thomas Malthus through Paul Ehrlich and Al Gore. It exposes the worst crimes perpetrated by the antihumanist movement, including eugenics campaigns in the United States and genocidal anti-development and population-control programs around the world. Combining riveting tales from history with powerful policy arguments, Merchants of Despair provides scientific refutations to all of antihumanism’s major pseudo-scientific claims, including its modern tirades against nuclear power, pesticides, population growth, biotech foods, resource depletion, and industrial development.
Too Many People? provides a clear, well-documented, and popularly written refutation of the idea that "overpopulation" is a major cause of environmental destruction, arguing that a focus on human numbers not only misunderstands the causes of the crisis, it dangerously weakens the movement for real solutions. No other book challenges modern overpopulation theory so clearly and comprehensively, providing invaluable insights for the layperson and environmental scholars alike. Ian Angus is editor of the ecosocialist journal Climate and Capitalism, and Simon Butler is co-editor of Green Left Weekly.
Concern about the size of the world's population did not begin with the "population bomb" in 1968. It arose in the aftermath of World War I and was understood as an issue with far-reaching ecological, agricultural, economic, and geopolitical consequences. The world population problem concerned the fertility of soil as much as the fertility of women, always involving both "earth" and "life." Global Population traces the idea of a world population problem as it evolved from the 1920s through the 1960s. The growth and distribution of the human population over the planet's surface came deeply to shape the characterization of "civilizations" with different standards of living. It forged the very ideas of development, demographically defined three worlds, and, for some, an aspirational "one world." Drawing on international conference transcripts and personal and organizational archives, this book reconstructs the twentieth-century population problem in terms of migration, colonial expansion, globalization, and world food plans. Population was a problem in which international relations and intimate relations were one. Global Population ultimately shows how a geopolitical problem about sovereignty over land morphed into a biopolitical solution, entailing sovereignty over one's person.

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