Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (American Crossroads)
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With an emphasis on the American West, Eugenic Nation explores the long and unsettled history of eugenics in the United States. This expanded second edition includes shocking details demonstrating that eugenics continues to inform institutional and reproductive injustice. Alexandra Minna Stern draws on recently uncovered historical records to reveal patterns of racial bias in California’s sterilization program and documents compelling individual experiences. With the addition of radically new and relevant research, this edition connects the eugenic past to the genomic present with attention to the ethical and social implications of emerging genetic technologies.
better breeding that have straddled many social, spatial, and temporal divides. At times I use hereditarianism interchangeably with eugenics, both for the purposes of word variation and to describe ideas and practices based on the primacy of heredity over cultural or behavioral explanations. Eugenic Nation seeks to push the bounds of what has been considered eugenics, not to vilify but to raise questions about the extent to which medicine, biology, and the hereditarian impulse have shaped modern
[in the immigration building] was bathe them [the immigrants]. . . . They bathed them and took off their clothes, which were washed somewhere else and returned all wrinkled.” All this, as Señora X recalled, was because “they thought [Mexicans] were bringing microbes or something like that over from Mexico.”61 For José Burciaga, who came to El Paso in 1907 and crossed frequently, the quarantine transformed the bridge into an obstacle and the boundary line into a construct veriﬁed and enacted upon
prominent doctors, philanthropists, journalists, academicians, and administrators who wished to extend the reach of an extensive eugenics agenda that dated back to the turn of the century.13 Indeed, the sweep and scope of these attempted statutes illustrate the extent to which ideas about the dangers and costs of hereditary degeneracy pervaded California government and culture. Even with this legislative setback, the number of sterilizations rose 84 | Instituting Eugenics in California
Domínguez, a ﬁfteen-year-old boy diagnosed with a borderline IQ of 75, responded negatively to Butler’s request for sterilization through the intermediary of his priest. Domínguez was under the watch of the Santa Barbara Police Department’s Probation Office because he had been found intoxicated in a local pool hall, had been party to a knife ﬁght, and had been “involved with a local gang of 126 | “I Like to Keep My Body Whole” marauding Mexicans.”50 According to Butler, Domínguez’s parents
transcended all others and was the “greatest that can exist between two normal human beings.”19 It was a distinction based on evolution, nature, and genetics that was essential to the interconnected health and survival of the family, the nation, and Western civilization, and it had to be preserved at all costs in modern society, where it was under assault from forces of hedonism, commercialism, and decadence. By including a broad range of characteristics under the labels of masculinity and