Flash Talks

Event Title

State-Sanctioned Compulsory Sterilization in Virginia

Date

4-10-2021

Location

Online

Description

During the early twentieth century, the eugenics movement in America aimed to control and eradicate unwanted populations through compulsory sterilization. Sterilizations had a profound impact in the state of Virginia, but much remains unknown about this period of history, including the level of organization involved in the design of institutions to facilitate mass sterilization. I am using historical research methods and geographic information systems to explore whether locational data can inform us about mapping spatial relationships between institutions and historically-known marginalized communities. Today, eugenics is seen as a pseudo-science that was used as a vehicle to uphold early 20th-century American social prejudices in order to wrongfully eliminate "inferior" genes. If the principle motivations of eugenic sterilization involved racial hygiene and the supposed "genetic inferiority" of the poor, then these motivations (e.g., targeting specific groups of people) may be visible as spatial relationships on a map.

Presentation Type

Flash Talk

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State-Sanctioned Compulsory Sterilization in Virginia

Online

During the early twentieth century, the eugenics movement in America aimed to control and eradicate unwanted populations through compulsory sterilization. Sterilizations had a profound impact in the state of Virginia, but much remains unknown about this period of history, including the level of organization involved in the design of institutions to facilitate mass sterilization. I am using historical research methods and geographic information systems to explore whether locational data can inform us about mapping spatial relationships between institutions and historically-known marginalized communities. Today, eugenics is seen as a pseudo-science that was used as a vehicle to uphold early 20th-century American social prejudices in order to wrongfully eliminate "inferior" genes. If the principle motivations of eugenic sterilization involved racial hygiene and the supposed "genetic inferiority" of the poor, then these motivations (e.g., targeting specific groups of people) may be visible as spatial relationships on a map.