Debating Clause 21: ‘Eugenic Marriage’ in New Zealand
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In this chapter, Angela Wanhalla traces debates over ‘eugenic marriage’ within New Zealand’s eugenic circles and networks during the first three decades of the twentieth century. She argues there was little consensus over how eugenic marriage was to be achieved, while eugenists struggled to gain public approval for their proposed interventions, reflected in the rejection of Clause 21, which set prohibitions on marriage, from inclusion in the Mental Defectives Amendment Act 1928. At a time when ideas about marriage were undergoing a transition, New Zealanders ultimately rejected eugenic schemes of ‘scientific matchmaking’, preferring to view marriage as a private matter ideally based upon mutuality and emotional connection.
The author gratefully acknowledges the support provided by a Royal Society of New Zealand Rutherford Discovery Fellowship, which enabled the research for this chapter to be undertaken.