Abstract: California was at the forefront of the eugenics movement nationally and internationally in the 20th century. This talk explores this history, with attention to the overlapping dimensions of xenophobia, environmentalism, and heteronormativity. It will share research findings from the Sterilization and Social Justice Lab on demographic patterns and social experiences of eugenic sterilization in the Golden State. It will also discuss how knowledge institutions and networks, especially universities, fortified eugenic ideas and practices. The talk will conclude by reflecting on what eugenic legacies mean for those committed to anti-racism and inclusion in higher education today.
About the Speaker: Alexandra Minna Stern is the Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor in the Department of American Culture at the University of Michigan. She is also the director of the Sterilization and Social Justice Lab, an interdisciplinary research team dedicated to critically examining the history of eugenics and sterilization in Michigan, North Carolina, Iowa, and California. Her prize winning book Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America centers the American West in the history of eugenics in the United States. Her most recent book Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate applies her expertise in the history of eugenics, feminist theory, and critical race theory to analyzing and deconstructing contemporary white nationalist movements.