PMAPS Colloquium: Victoria Pihl Sørensen

Victoria Pihl Sørensen, a PhD Candidate in PMA, will present her research surrounding the relationship between Danish social democracy and eugenics on Friday, April 12th at 3:00pm in the Film Forum.

Her talk will delve into what has contributed to the marginalization of specific demographics within the context of Danish popular culture; her work centers around analyzing the factors which led to the social oppression of these populations. In her research, she has focused on showing how eugenics is presented - she hopes to educate those attending about how it has spread and the implications it may have for everyone in society.

Eugenics in Danish social democracy impacts more than just those who live in Denmark— As Pihl Sørensen stated, “The Danish welfare state is one of the most celebrated forms of liberal social democracy. While its eugenic history is specific, it has general import, because it unsettles the legacy of European liberal social democracy." The pervasive nature of eugenics is felt by everyone, and this talk will unveil some of the elements which contribute to its expression in the media.

“This history should make all of us uncomfortable, because it is about how some people were excluded, villainized, and criminalized popularly in the making of the Danish welfare state,” said Sørensen. Over the course of her research, she has developed the idea of ‘eugenic common sense;' this term aims to emphasize that the prevalence of eugenics in culture has allowed it to both go unseen yet hold undeniable impacts on society at large.

Pihl Sørensen emphasizes that her research “…attends to [eugenics'] expressions in popular culture, highlights its spread and critically examines its race, gender, sex, disability, and class narratives,” and continues by stating that “Even though its history may have been quietly glossed over popularly, in this talk, I demonstrate that Danish eugenics was loud: self-proclaimed progressives and feminists produced successful radio shows, performances, and films to educate the masses about eugenics.”

Victoria E. Pihl Sørensen is a Ph.D. Candidate at Cornell University in the Department of Performing and Media Arts minoring in Science and Technology Studies. She is passionate about reproductive justice and works at the intersection of reproductive media and medicine. Her doctoral research examines public health, population control, and so-called ‘racial hygiene’ initiatives in 20th century Denmark. Victoria holds an MA in Women’s and Gender Studies from the CUNY Graduate Center and approaches her scholarship from a critical perspective on race, coloniality, gender, sexuality, disability, and class. She recently published “‘In Women’s Hands’: Feminism, Eugenics, and Race in Interwar Denmark” (2023), in the feminist journal Women, Gender & Research.

This colloquium is organized by the Performance and Media Arts Presentation (PMAPS) series.

Inaugurated in Fall 2021, PMAPS is the latest iteration of a colloquium series within the Department of Performing and Media Arts. Its greatest vision lies in offering graduate students a space to present their work to students, faculty, and professionals of similar fields and interests. The content of its presentations ranges from media studies to dance, and such diverse nature has earned the attention of related communities both within and outside Ithaca, NY.

Amy Mojica ’26 is a communications assistant in the department of Performing and Media Arts. 

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