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Lehrstuhl für Neueste Geschichte – Prof. Dr. Isabel Heinemann

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International Conference: Tracing Knowledge on Human Heredity: New Perspectives on the History of Human Genetics in the FRG

Date: June 5-7, 2024

Venue: Alexander von Humboldt-Haus, Eichendorffring 5, 95447 Bayreuth 

Conveners: Lukas Alex, Isabel Heinemann


Ein Wissenschaftler vergleicht die Augenfarben von zwei Zwillingsjungen


After 1945, the discipline of race hygiene in Germany was fundamentally discredited as central element of Nazi eugenics and criminal racial policies. Thus, the history of human genetics after 1945 has a rather twisted and complicated history, especially in the FRG. While human genetics started to replace race hygiene as scientific discipline that dealt with human heredity in the postwar, it took some time until German scientists and research institutions were ready to embrace human genetics on a larger scale: Whereas some scientists (all of them with a Nazi past) had succeeded in re-establishing human genetic research at West German universities already during the 1950s, only the 1960s and 1970s saw research institutes and counselling centres emerge on a national and even regional level – with the help of state funding. As the institutional and personal histories of the discipline are comparatively well researched, this conference suggests shift the focus on forms/cultures of knowledge and practices of research and counselling to suggest innovative perspectives of research.

The workshop brings together international historians of medicine, science, and contemporary history to discuss new research on the history of human genetics in the FRG and its transnational entanglements. It chooses a history-of-knowledge approach to focus on transnational and transdisciplinary entanglements and enhance our understanding of the history of human genetics. Especially we are interested in scrutinizing

  • the relations between scientists and probands, physicians and patients/clients,
  • the practices of ordering and producing knowledge, and
  • the representation of human genetic knowledge.

To participate in the conference, please register by 20 May 2024 via email at Lukas.Alex@uni-bayreuth.de

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Program

Wednesday, June 5th

18.00      Get-Together at the Hotel Lobby Residenzschloss Bayreuth     Erlanger Str. 37, 95444 Bayreuth

19.00      Dinner at Lamperie     Friedrichstr. 13, 95444 Bayreuth

Thursday, June 6th

9.00 – 11.00    Panel 1 – Genetic Research on Populations
Chair: Isabel Heinemann (Bayreuth)

  • Veronika Lipphardt (Freiburg): Genetic Studies with Vulnerable Populations: The Case of the Roma
  • Lukas Alex (Bayreuth): Population Genetics and Eugenic Knowledge in the Early Federal Republic of Germany
  • Pascal Germann (Bern, CH): Comment

11.00 – 11.30     Break 

11.30 – 13.30  Panel 2 – Genetic Counselling between State and Individuum
Chair: Julia Reus (Bayreuth)

  • Jenny Bangham (London, UK): Affective Registers: Documentation and Genetic Counselling in the UK’s National Health Service
  • Susanne Doetz (Berlin): Talking about Risks. Genetic Counselling in the GDR in the 1970s and 1980s
  • Heiner Fangerau (Düsseldorf): Comment

13.30 – 14.30      Lunch

15.30 – 17.30  Excursion to Richard Wagner Museum     Richard-Wagner-Str. 48, 95444 Bayreuth

  • Guided tour in English by Museum and Archives Director Sven Friedrich: Wagners Antisemitism and its Impact

18.00 – 20.00  Keynote lecture
Introduction: Isabel Heinemann (Bayreuth)

  • Staffan Müller-Wille (Cambridge, UK): From Eugenics to Human Genetics: International Entanglements

20.00       Dinner at Trattoria Da Raffaele     Von-Römer-Straße 20, 95444 Bayreuth

Friday, June 7th   

9.00 – 11.00    Panel 3 – Heredity or Environment? Aetiological Research
Chair: Lukas Alex (Bayreuth)

  • Heike Petermann (Münster): Hereditary Diseases: Tracing the Research of German Human Geneticists
  • Alexander v. Schwerin (Berlin): Different Conjunctures of Animal Models in Human Genetics, 1930 – 1990
  • Hans-Georg Hofer (Münster): Comment 

11.00 – 11.30     Break

11.30 – 13.30  Panel 4 – New Perspectives on the Human Genetics and Genetic Counselling in West-Germany
Chair: Julia Eichenberg (Bayreuth)

  • Isabel Heinemann (Bayreuth): Happy Healthy Families. Human Genetic Counselling in the 1950s and 1960s in West-Germany and the US
  • Felicitas Söhner (Düsseldorf): Understanding the Transformation of a Medical Discipline with Oral History
  • Henning Tümmers (Tübingen): Comment

13.30     Lunch and depature


Verantwortlich für die Redaktion: Lukas Alex

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