Talking Biopolitics with Alexandra Stern and Corey Johnson

November 14, 2013

Alexandra Minna Stern and Corey Johnson and the Center for Genetics and Society for Talking Biopolitics 2013. In this live web-based interview and conversation, Alexandra and Corey will talk with Marcy Darnovsky – and with you – about their work on sterilization abuse in California. 

About the Publications

Sterilization - Nguyen

In a recent investigative report written with the Center for Investigative Reporting, Corey Johnson exposed the unauthorized sterilizations of women in California prisons between 2006 and 2010. "Female inmates sterilized in California prisons without approval" details reports of at least 148 women who received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules – and there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents and interviews. Corey's exposé was reported in dozens of news outlets, and helped prompt state legislators to order an audit into these abuses.

Alexandra Minna Stern's Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America examines the science of "better breeding" in the American West, revealing the intimate relations of race, science, gender, sexuality, and population policy. The story begins in the 1900s, when influential California eugenicists molded an extensive agenda of better breeding for the rest of the country, and molded state policies that led to some 20,000 involuntary sterilizations in California. Eugenic Nation explores the influence of eugenics on phenomena as varied as race-based intelligence tests, school segregation, tropical medicine, the Border Patrol, and the environmental movement. It won the 2006 American Public Health Association’s Arthur Viseltear Prize for outstanding contribution to the scholarship on the history of public health.

About the Authors

Alexandra Minna Stern is a medical historian at the University of Michigan. She is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Culture, and History, and a member of the Department of ObGyn’s Program in Sexual Rights and Reproductive Justice. Currently, she is leading a research team examining demographic patterns in California's eugenic sterilization program. Preliminary analysis of a data set of 15,000 sterilization authorizations show that Mexican-origin women and men were sterilized at rates that far exceeded population numbers. Alex’s most recent book is Telling Genes: The Story of Genetic Counseling in Modern America (Johns Hopkins Press, 2012).

Corey G. Johnson is an investigative reporter focusing on money and politics for California Watch and the Center for Investigative Reporting. He was the lead reporter on CIR's On Shaky Ground series, which uncovered systemic weaknesses in earthquake protections at California public schools. That work was a finalist for a 2012 Pulitzer Prize and won the IRE Medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Scripps Howard Award for public service reporting and the Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism.