Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (American Crossroads)

1 Dec

Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (American Crossroads)

Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (American Crossroads)

Language: English

Pages: 424

ISBN: 0520285069

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

First edition, Winner of the Arthur J. Viseltear Prize, American Public Health Association

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.











adding that “the settling of the tropics by the Caucasian will date from the completion of the Panama Canal.”66 Once seen as resulting from pestilential emanations, tropical diseases began to be understood as infections caused by tiny microbes that, with the appropriate laboratory and medical equipment, could be managed through a militarized brand of surveillance, record keeping, and coordinated extermination. The formation and implementation of tropical medicine in the colonies bolstered the

Patrol Academy was established in El Paso, more involved screening and preparation of recruits was put in place.98 Perkins boasted that it required just two years of his leadership in El Paso for the district patrol to become a “healthy, coordinated outfit” that inspired “a considerable amount of public confidence.” He claimed that close to a decade after its formation, “The officers were well trained and disciplined; they could be counted on in any tight spot they encountered; generally, they

Manual, which drew from Davenport’s Trait Book and Laughlin’s How to Make a Eugenical Family History.77 In keeping with the eugenic nomenclature of the era, bureau psychologists assigned alphabetic “unit characters”—A for alcoholic, F for feebleminded, and W for wanderer—encasing them in squares or circles (depending on the relative’s gender) as they traced back the familial lineage of the child in question.78 For instance, in the case of an eleven-yearold male truant, Williams first traced the

superintendents of asylums and prisons the authority to “asexualize” a patient or inmate if such action would improve his or her “physical, mental, or moral condition.”112 The 100 | Instituting Eugenics in California law was expanded in 1913, when it was repealed and replaced, and was updated in 1917, when clauses were added to shield physicians against legal retaliation and to foreground a eugenic, rather than penal, rationale for surgery.113 The 1917 amendment, for example, reworded the

the 1940s. Using family pedigree charts and armed with fledgling knowledge of the biochemistry of a variety of genetic diseases, genetic counselors advised couples on the probability that their offspring would carry deleterious or lethal traits.14 They publicly disdained earlier eugenicists’ fixation on race and instead believed that the universal gene pool could be improved through judicious mating and a personal reluctance to propagate defects.15 The individual was also the focus for

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