State Facilitated Violence of Black Women in North Carolina through the Lens of Eugenic Sterilization
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North Carolina conducted a eugenic sterilization program between 1929-1974. In that interval a disproportionate number of Black women were sterilized. North Carolina’s eugenic period of reproductive violence is part of a continuum of violence experienced by Black women since the founding of the Carolinas. This project brings a consideration of historical materialism,historical womanism, and the concept of coloniality to conduct a genealogy of this violence; it is a study of “the things behind the thing” – the things being racism, capitalism, scientific racism,and gender and the thing being reproductive violence in several forms (Gordon, 2008, p. ix). In colonial history the violence is slavery, in the antebellum the violence is medical research, in what I refer to as the eugenic age the violence is sterilization, and thereafter the violence is incarceration. Each incarnation of reproductive violence is inseparable from a genocidal function, whether biological or social. Given my academic background in evolutionary theory, the sociohistorical analysis of eugenic sterilization is accompanied by a scientific debunking. Were eugenics scientifically sound - given what was known at the time and today – it would still be unjustifiable. Approaching eugenics with the scientific method is done with the hope that contemporary and future scientists weigh the influence of social contexts on their theories. Instead of thinking of biology (and its subfields) as immune from the logical fallacies and prejudices of society - the field could be enriched by increasing the sociohistorical awareness of researchers. This study includes original graphs produced from data in the publicly available biennial reports of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina’s first published in 1936. These reports summarize the conduct of the programs between 1929 and 1966, although North Carolina’s program officially ended in 1974. In addition to the demographic data of victims, the reports provide an understanding of the ideology of eugenicists and insight into how the operations were carried out. Each report begins with a listing of the members of the board, transitions to a summary of developments for the program, and ends with statistics on who and where people were sterilized. I have grouped the information by subject and drawn from the volumes available to give an overview of the period of eugenic sterilization.
DepartmentAfrican and African American Studies
CitationOnyango, Brenda (2016). State Facilitated Violence of Black Women in North Carolina through the Lens of Eugenic Sterilization. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10161/11955.
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Rights for Collection: Undergraduate Honors Theses and Student papers