Facing Eugenics is a social history of sexual sterilization operations in twentieth-century Canada. Looking at real-life experiences of men and women who, either coercively or voluntarily, participated in the largest legal eugenics program in Canada, it considers the impact of successive legal policies and medical practices on shaping our understanding of contemporary reproductive rights. The book also provides deep insights into the broader implications of medical experimentation, institutionalization, and health care in North America.
Erika Dyck uses a range of historical evidence, including medical files, court testimony, and personal records to place mental health and intelligence at the centre of discussions regarding reproductive fitness. Examining acts of resistance alongside heavy-handed decisions to sterilize people considered “unfit,” Facing Eugenics illuminates how reproductive rights fit into a broader discussion of what constitutes civil liberties, modern feminism, and contemporary psychiatric survivor and disability activism.
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Reviews and Endorsements:
“Facing Eugenics is rich, complex, and nuanced, yet leaves us with a complete and useful portrait of eugenics in the twentieth century – not an easy feat. One of the strategies that Erika Dyck employs to do this so effectively is her use of case studies, each of which is fascinating and helps to illustrate a piece of the puzzle. Compelling, well-researched, and extremely well-written, this study reshapes the parameters of the eugenics debate.”
Wendy Kline, Department of History, University of Cincinnati
“With Facing Eugenics, Dyck demonstrates a mastery of the vast literature on the history of eugenics, sterilization, and reproductive rights. Her book not only follows the most recent trends in the field, but moves it forward in important ways.”
Rebecca Kluchin, Department of History, California State University, Sacramento
Table of Contents
List of Images
Chapter 1: Vagrancy, Violence and Virtue: Nora Powers
Chapter 2: Race, Consent and Protection: George Pierre
Chapter 3: Sterilization Redefined: Violet and Irene
Chapter 4: Vasectomy, Masculinity and Hyperactivity: Ken Nelson
Chapter 5: From Sterilization to Patient Activism: Doreen Ella Befus
Chapter 6: Appendectomy to Queen’s Court Settlement: Leilani Muir
Chapter 7: Abortion, Sterilization and the Eugenics Legacy: Jane Doe
Chapter 8: Conclusion
About the Author:
Erika Dyck is Canada Research Chair in History of Medicine and an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan.