Thesis ID: CBB087168632

[Un]informed Consent: Eugenics, Forced Sterilization and Medical Violence in the Jim Crow United States and Apartheid Southern Africa (2019)


This dissertation explores comparative legal practices, cases, media coverage and testimonies that have arisen in relation to forced sterilization in the United States under Jim Crow laws and Southern Africa during the apartheid era. This project argues that the denial of consent, or at best tenuous consent, to sterilization reflects institutionalized violence perpetrated by the state and a global anti-blackness built on a historic partnership between legal segregation and eugenic practices. Using legal documents, media analysis and narratives of victims of sterilization, the project explores the concept of consent, asking about the conditions that must be present for consent to exist, how lines are drawn between consent and coercion and in what ways consent can be understood within systems of legalized segregation. Further, the project considers how consent itself could become a mechanism of control within the state rather than a means to grant autonomy. Through these lines of inquiry, the project aims to explore the broader phenomenon of how Black women’s reproductive abilities pose a continuing threat to societies built on a violent and legal Black-white racial divide. Contending that violence must be analyzed both as an act of physical force as well as systemic violence perpetuated by discriminatory systems, the project concludes by exploring the continued forms of this reproductive violence through the global distribution of birth control and limited access to reproductive technologies.

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Authors & Contributors
Ladd-Taylor, Molly
Briggs, Laura J.
Dowbiggin, Ian Robert
Dyck, Erika
Krementsov, Nikolai L.
Laurenson, Helen
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadienne d'Histoire de la Medecine
Cold War History
Current Anthropology
Hispanic American Historical Review
History of Psychiatry
History of Psychology
University of Toronto
Indiana University
Jacana Media
Johns Hopkins University Press
Oxford University Press
University of California Press
Birth control; contraception; sterilization
Science and race
Involuntary sterilization
Science and gender
Buck, Carrie
Time Periods
20th century
20th century, early
19th century
20th century, late
21st century
United States
South Africa
Great Britain
Ontario (Canada)
United States. Supreme Court

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