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Reproductive Sociology Research Group

Currently, I am a Postdoctoral Fellow funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. I completed my Ph.D. in the Centre of Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge in December 2019. My areas of expertise are in critical race theory, the critical study of eugenics and scientific racism, historical sociology, and the sociology of health and illness with a focus on reproduction, decolonial theory, gender studies, queer theory, and social inequalities. I will be undertaking a four-year Research Fellowship at Gonville & Caius from October 2021.

Current Research: “What Happened to Mexican Eugenics: Racism and the Reproduction of the Nation”

Scholarly accounts of eugenics in Mexico have treated it as a field that became defunct following WWII. The most innovative aspect of my intervention is to show, on the contrary, how eugenic practices and ideologies continue to shape contemporary social policy, cultural understandings of disability, medicine, conceptions of nationalism, and biological science. My exploration of Mexican eugenics as part of a broader international network offers a framework for demonstrating the interconnectedness of eugenic ideas globally, and their impact on the everyday lives of individuals. While addressing the specificity of Mexico I argue that one cannot constrict the study of eugenic science to a single place, time, practice, or context as race science and eugenics were international networks of ideology and knowledge, fomented by transnational connections, and responding to their own context while being in conversation with others.

My current project uses a longue durée historical and sociological analysis in order to understand how eugenics came about in Mexico (after the Mexican Revolution 1910-1920) and to answer the question of what happened to eugenic ideas and practices after the dissolution of the Mexican Society of Eugenics (SME) in the mid-1950s. The answer to this question demonstrates the global interconnectedness of eugenic ideas, the production of context-specific knowledge and how these notions have an impact on the every-day life of individuals. I argue that eugenic ideas in Mexico allowed the creation of a national body that, in turn, helped to pathologize groups that, in the eugenicists’ view, were detrimental to the improvement of the national stock—ideas that continue to exist today through the usage of veiled and coded language that lack overtly racist overtones. Thus, I provide the tools to recognize the continuation of eugenic practices and ideas even after the language of eugenics falls from acceptability.

This approach enables an exploration of eugenics in Mexico from different angles, including the impact members of the SME had on the making of the family at an individual and national level, and the definition of who does—and does not—belong to the Mexican nation. The main argument of this project is to argue that eugenics did not simply disappear but continues to be seen in the processes through which individuals manage their own bodies, as well as in state measures concerning public health crises such as the HIV epidemic, disability, and issues of population control. Overall, this work introduces the concept of slippery eugenics to account for the ongoing development and impact of eugenic ideas in Mexico, which, I argue, continue to shape the reproduction of the nation into the present.

Upcoming Research: The Legacies of Eugenics in the Construction of Disability in Mexico

I posit that eugenic ideas and the language of “racial superiority”, “feeblemindedness”, and “abnormality”—common before WWII and sanitized and replaced by terms like “people with disabilities”—in Mexico allowed the creation of a national body that, consecutively, helped to pathologize groups that, in eugenicists’ views, were incapable of “improving” the national stock—ideas that persist through the usage of veiled language without overtly ableist and racist overtones. For example, in their most explicit manner, eugenic practices—like sterilizations—continue to be practiced against people with disabilities and indigenous populations in Mexico. I observe how principles of eugenics are present without the explicit use of eugenic language. My research points to the similarities of Mexican eugenics with other countries. Similarly, I show how its internal contradictions make it a noteworthy case for explaining the dynamics behind the production of eugenic knowledge and systemic racism. Employing a historical and contemporary approach of eugenics through the lens of disability studies and critical race theory allows me to explore the ways in which eugenics slips into common understanding in the studies and practices around disability in science, society, medicine, policy, and everyday practices.

Despite local and international policies made to protect “disabled groups” there is, first, no real effort to question or eradicate the hegemony of normalcy and, second, no real determination to stop abuse in mental health hospitals. However, there are different non-governmental organizations-like the Colectivo Chuhcan-who are actively fighting to question and fix the conditions created by the systematic pathologization, exclusion, racism, and discrimination of different functioning bodies and indigenous peoples. Thus, this project will explore the links between eugenics and the ways in which different grassroots organizations and collectives in Mexico question and link contemporary human rights violations targeted at people pathologized as people with disabilities to the legacies of Mexican eugenics.

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