This article explores the nineteenth-century conceptualization of racialized whiteness that foregrounded empathy as whites’ signal evolutionary achievement and the font of their potential. Neo-Lamarckian evolutionary science in the United States articulated whiteness as an acquired disposition to care, as both noun and verb. This deep context helps us account for the rise of a statist, ameliorative new liberalism at the turn of the century and the building of a midcentury apparatus of “white care”: a surround of institutions and infrastructure dedicated to the education, health, security, mobility, and comfort of the white citizenry. The care-oriented liberalism emplaced by the New Deal was rooted in a biopolitical imperative to “make live” the valorized white portion of the population.

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