Eugenics in California: A Legacy of the Past?

(This public event was held at the Berkeley Law School on the UC Berkeley campus and webcast live.)

For much of the 20th century, California was at the forefront of eugenic ideology and practices in the United States, and holds the dubious distinction of being the state with the highest number of eugenic sterilizations performed under the authority of law -- some 20,000 procedures between 1909 and the mid-1950s. Coerced sterilizations continued in public hospitals into the 1970s, and it has recently come to light that in very recent years, women prisoners in California have been sterilized without their consent or knowledge. Today, California is a leader in research and services related to human genomics and assisted reproductive technologies. Speakers at this public event will consider the long history of eugenics in California and explore continuities and discontinuities in the uses and misuses of genetic ideas and practices.

Hosted by:
Dean Christopher Edley, Berkeley School of Law

Troy Duster, Chancellor's Professor, University of California at Berkeley

Miroslava Chávez-García Professor of Chicana/o Studies, University of California at Davis
Alexandra Minna Stern Professor of History of Medicine, University of Michigan
Renee Tajima-Peña Professor of Social Documentation, University of California at Santa Cruz
Kate Trumbull-LaValle Documentary Filmmaker
Virginia Espino Series Leader for Latina/o History, University of California at Los Angeles
Courtney Hooks, Justice Now
Kimberly Jeffrey, Justice Now
Marcy Darnovsky Associate Executive Director, Center for Genetics and Society

This event was organized by the Coalition to Address California's Eugenic History and co-sponsored by Center for Genetics and Society, and UC Berkeley's Haas Diversity Research Center, School of Law, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, American Cultures Center, Disability Studies Program, Disabled Students Program, Center for Reproductive Rights and Justice, and the Center for Race and Gender.

Co-coordinators: Marcy Darnovsky, Alexandra Minna Stern

Advisory committee: Miroslava Chávez-García, Troy Duster, Tony Platt, Sue Schweik Less