From 1928 to 1972, the Alberta Sexual Sterilization Act, Canada’s lengthiest eugenic policy, shaped social discourses and medical practice in the province. Sterilization programs—particularly involuntary sterilization programs—were responding both nationally and internationally to social anxieties produced by the perceived connection between mental degeneration and heredity. Psychiatry and the Legacies of Eugenics illustrates how the emerging field of psychiatry and its concerns about inheritable conditions was heavily influenced by eugenic thought and contributed to the longevity of sterilization practices in Western Canada.
Using institutional case studies, biographical accounts, and media developments from Western Canada and Europe, contributors trace the impact of eugenics on nursing practices, politics, and social attitudes, while investigating the ways in which eugenics discourses persisted unexpectedly and remained mostly unexamined in psychiatric practice. This volume further extends historical analysis into considerations of contemporary policy and human rights issues through a discussion of disability studies as well as compensation claims for victims of sterilization. In impressive detail, contributors shed new light on the medical and political influences of eugenics on psychiatry at a key moment in the field’s development.
About the Editors
Frank W. Stahnisch holds the Alberta Medical Foundation/Hannah Professorship in the History of Medicine and Health Care at the University of Calgary where he also chairs the History of Medicine and Health Care program. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences and the author of A New Field in Mind: A History of Interdisciplinarity in the Early Brain Sciences (forthcoming in 2020).
Erna Kurbegovic received her PhD in history at the University of Calgary. Her research looks at the early history of forced sterilizations and eugenics discourses in Western Canada.
Contributors: Ashley Barlow, W. Mikkel Dack, Aleksandra Loewenau, Diana Mansell, Guel A. Russell, Celeste Tuong Vy Sharpe, Henderikus J. Stam, Douglas Wahlsten, Paul J. Weindling, Robert A. Wilson, Gregor Wolbring, and Marc Workman.