ELSIcon2022 • Panel 11 • June 1, 2022
Nicole Novak, Heather Dron, Marie Kaniecki, Levity Smith, Juan Gudino
This panel showcases recent research by the Sterilization and Social Justice Lab, a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional team which employs mixed methods to study patterns and experiences of eugenic sterilization in five U.S. states in the 20th century. The papers explore: (1) the contested nature of 'consent' in the context of involuntary sterilization in California; (2) the intersections of involuntary sterilization, institutionalization, and deportation of immigrants in California; (3) newly discovered coordination between the War Relocation Authority and California mental institutions to sterilize Japanese Americans held in incarceration camps during World War II; and (4) macro, cross-state analysis that elucidates racial, gender, and diagnostic patterns in five states. Taken together, these papers demonstrate how exploring the history of eugenics and sterilization sheds light on issues highly relevant to ELSI and bioethics today, such as the limits of 'consent'; eugenic rationales for racial exclusion and segregation; and how labels of disability and defectiveness profoundly shaped eugenics programs even as patterns varied regionally in the United States. In addition to sharing new research, panelists will discuss how rigorous research on the history of eugenic sterilization can contribute to reparative justice, and to ongoing reckoning with the U.S.'s eugenic past.