ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The ‘Population Bomb’ of the Aged

As the World Ages: Rethinking a Demographic Crisis by Kavita Sivaramakrishnan, Harvard University Press, 2018; pp 320 (hardcover), price: unstated.

There are some overwhelming tropes that unite most demographic discourses. Racism, one of them, is of course linked with neo-Malthusianism, and not just because they came together in the West in the late 19th century. We might begin, then, with a brief genealogy of neo-Malthusianism. Genealogies are fundamentally about accepted, legal marriages and births. The late 19th-century marriage of colonial anthropology with craniometry and the “science” of “race” produced the “science” of eugenics. Framing these disciplines was the reality of colonialism that midwifed and nurtured these disciplines. Eugenics, of course, is a parent of neo-Malthusianism and of sociobiology. The American anthropologist D G Brinton argued, in praise of anthropometry:

The adult who retains the more numerous fetal, infantile or simian traits is unquestionably inferior to him whose development has progressed beyond them. Measured by these criteria, the European or white race stands at the head of the list, the African or Negro at its foot. (Brinton 1890 cited in Gould 1981: 116)

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Updated On : 24th Dec, 2018
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