Facing Eugenics: Reproduction, Sterilization, and the Politics of Choice

Facing Eugenics: Reproduction, Sterilization, and the Politics of Choice

Weight 0.00 lbs
By Erika Dyck
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2013
World Rights
332 Pages 14 Images
ISBN 9781442612556
Published Dec 2013
Online discount: 25%
 $30.95    $23.21
ISBN 9781442644168
Published Dec 2013
Online discount: 25%
 $67.00    $50.25
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442699342
Published Dec 2013
Online discount: 26%
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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.

Erika Dyck is Canada Research Chair in History of Medicine and an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan.


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


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

‘I would suggest that this complicated history, one that is both sweepingly macro and intimately micro, is not only worth reading but also our responsibility to remember.’

Jen Rinaldi, Canadian Journal of Disability Studies vol 3:03:2014

‘This is a terrific book which deserves a wide audience well beyond Canada.’

Philippa Levine, Histoire sociale / Social History, vol 47:95:2014

‘Facing Eugenics is a wonderful book. Written in clear and accessible prose, it provides a sophisticated and nuanced account of history of eugenics and reproductive rights in Canada. It deserves wide readership in the classroom and beyond.’

Molly Todd-Taylor, Canadian Historical Review vol 96:01:2015

Facing Eugenics is a well-researched account of the complex social history surrounding the development of eugenics and reproductive issues.’

Garland E. Ellen, Isis vol 106:02:2015

‘Dyck situates the fascinating and important story of eugenics and sterilization in Alberta on the historiographical map with exceptional intelligence and compassion.’

Alexandra Minna Stern, Bulletin of the History of Medicine vol89:03:2015

John A. Macdonald Prize awarded by Canadian Historical Association (Canada) - Short-listed in 2014
Canada Prize in the Social Sciences awarded by Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (Canada) - Short-listed in 2014