Eugenic Legacies in Mexico and the Americas

Colloquium August 11th-12th, 3.45pm-10.30pm UK time /  10.45am-5.30pm EDT / 7.45am-2.30pm PT time

'17 Instituto de Estudios Criticos, Mexico City

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Panel 1 - Eugenics and education in Mexico

Panel 2 - Archives and collective in eugenic history

Panel 3 - Eugenic permutations in time and space

Panel 4 - Eugenics and resistance: From the past to the current day

Panel 5 - Reproductive technologies and discourses (eu) genetics

Panel 6 - Lived bodies and reproductive futures

Panel 7 - Eugenic legacies in Mexico and the Americas: Final discussion and closure

This colloquium is part of a project that seeks to develop a transnational space of critical reflection and research dissemination on eugenics and its repercussions in our unfolding present.

In the first decades of the twentieth century, eugenics in Mexico encompassed a broad range of politics and practices in public health and education, influencing hygiene, healthcare, cognitive and physical testing of schoolchildren, and reproductive health. Unlike some other world regions, Mexico did not carry out explicit projects of sterilization or genocide, but tended to favor “softer” approaches which would influence public behavior and shape educational and health settings. However, the goals of Mexican eugenics and the related tendencies of biotypology and hygiene were based on a project of racial improvement and national homogenization. In this context, human differences determined by racialization or disability played complex roles and were frequently marked as undesirable.

Our research brings together multidisciplinary and nuanced perspectives on eugenic history. We examine the repercussions of Mexican and global eugenics today, considering debates on epigenetics, genomic medicine, and the politics of reproductive choice. We also focus on the theme of inequality in access to medical attention and education, as shaped most recently by the global pandemic, and on how statistical projections of health outcomes for specific population groups, such as racialized or disabled people, may come to determine access to healthcare  resources. Topics include intelligence testing in children, institutional histories as linked to eugenic legacies, literary and artistic production as relevant to eugenics and resistance, and lived experiences of disability as critical tools to question both explicit and subtle forms of eugenics. Each of these topics has been shaped by a history of practices and beliefs that continue to uphold the differential valorization of human groups, determining the relative flourishing or withering of individuals and populations.

We will examine the historical roots of eugenics and the contemporary contexts of racialization and sexuality, and inequalities based on disability, to identify the ways in which critical and creative research practices might work toward greater equity and a more nuanced understanding of injustice.

This colloquium is part of an international initiative on eugenic histories and legacies, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of London and other academic institutions in North America and Europe: https://www.fromsmallbeginnings.org/

The event will feature presentations by thirteen researchers from the University of Toronto, 17, Instituto de Estudios Críticos, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Autonomous Metropolitan University of Mexico, National Pedagogical University of Morelia, University of Cambridge, Cinestav-Mexico, University of Aberdeen, National University of La Plata, and National University of Lanus.

Spearheaded by Susan Antebi (University of Toronto)