Sir Robert Stout as Freethinker and Eugenics Enthusiast
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In this chapter Emma Gattey examines the complex freethought and eugenic convictions of Sir Robert Stout. Drawing upon public lectures and private papers, she contends that Stout saw these intellectual commitments as integral to the creation of a progressive, modern, liberal, and scientifically-oriented nation. Stout wanted to advance New Zealand culture by wresting authority from the colonial churches, eliminating the ‘unfit’ from society, and creating a racially homogenized society of Anglo-Saxons and Māori. Gattey explains how Stout used freethinking, eugenic rhetoric, and cultural common ground with his audience to promote these changes. Further, by illuminating Stout’s personal engagement with eugenics and the ‘social defectives’ he wanted eliminated from society, this chapter contextualizes his dual focus on heredity and environment.