A Whisper Past: Childless after Eugenic Sterilization in Alberta by Leilani Muir

Leilani Muir, eugenic survivor has written her biography and launched it at the Alberta Gallery of Art on May 24, 2014. The event was hosted by the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada (http://eugenicsarchive.ca/). Leilani was the first person to file a successful law suit against the province of Alberta, Canada for wrongful sterilization under the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta.

Muir lived in several small towns in Alberta until she was sent to the Red Deer institution. The education she received there did not prepare her for life on the outside, but after she left the institution and escaped from her mother’s custody and at the age of 20, she learned quickly and worked in several cities in Western Canada as a waitress, a retail sales person, and a baby sitter, caring for as many as six children at one time. Only when she married did she learn the awful truth about the sterilization. After winning her case in court, her story was featured in a documentary by the National Film Board of Canada. She spoke at several public forums in Canada, The United States and France, and she ran for election to the Alberta legislature for the New Democratic Party. Recently she was designated a Game Changer on the CBC radio show The Currents, and her story was dramatized in the play The Invisible Child at the Edmonton Fringe theatre festival. She now serves as a governing board member for the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada, a Community-University Research Alliance project at the University of Alberta. Leilani’s story educates us about Canada’s eugenic past and raises awareness about the on-going discrimination against people with disabilities.

You can get a copy of Leilani’s book “A Whisper Past” online at: http://www.friesenpress.com/bookstore/title/119734000013125148/Leilani-Muir-A-Whisper-Past

cropped book cover

Watch for “Surviving Eugenics in the 21st Century: Our Stories Told” a film highlighting the experiences of eugenic survivors, featuring Leilani and others including several local people with disabilities. The film and reception will be held at the Metro Cinema, in Edmonton on Monday October 20, 2014 as part of Alberta Eugenics Awareness Week 2014. For more details about AEAW 2014 and the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada go to our website: http://eugenicsarchive.ca/#events-section

Interdisciplinary history of sterilization in 20th century Canada by Erika Dyck

An interdisciplinary history available for pre-order (to be published in November) from the U of T Press is University of Saskatchewan medical historian Erika Dyck’s

FACING EUGENICS: REPRODUCTION, STERILIZATION, AND THE POLITICS OF CHOICE

Cover art by Nick Supina III

Cover art by Nick Supina III

Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada team members, Professor Erika Dyck (author) and Nick Supina (artist) demonstrate their skill and years of work in this upcoming publication.

For more information about the book and how to order go to the original posting here: http://osgoodesocietycanadianlegalhistory.blogspot.ca/2013/06/interdisciplinary-history-of.html

The Importance of Being Innocent: Why We Worry About Children

 

Joanne Faulkner's new book

The Importance of Being Innocenct: Why We Worry About Children

Joanne Faulkner’s recently published book on childhood, The Importance of Being Innocent, was the topic of an Australian Broadcasting Corporation talk show segment today. You can here the interview here; here is the url directly:

http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/2011/02/lms_20110224_0919.mp3

A chunk of the book can be read at the Cambridge UP website:

http://www.cambridge.org/aus/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521146975

Dr. Faulkner is a member of the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada team.  She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in philosophy at the University of New South Wales, and formerly held a Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Alberta.

 

Why Women Shouldn’t Marry

From my good friend RR at Chicana on the Edge, some reflection on mother-daughter team Cynthia and Hillary Smith’s recently revised book of this title (it’s an update of their 1988 book). Even her pic for this one is too irresistible not to steal, with the book being read on her recent belated honeymoon …

Cover of the book Why Women Shouldn't Marry

Cover of the book Why Women Shouldn

On the first day of our honeymoon, my husband and I wandered into a bookstore. I happened to notice one title, Why Women Shouldn’t Marry: Being Single By Choice and I picked it up. I was a spinster for too long to not find this book irresistible. My new husband indulgently carried it to the checkout counter for me.

I appreciate Cynthia S. Smith and Hillary B. Smith’s book. It acknowledges all the great reasons to get married, but asserts that too many women marry for bad reasons. With chapters like “The Soul Mate Myth,” “Why Divorced Women with Kids Shouldn’t Marry” and “Why Widows Shouldn’t Marry: You’ve Been Through Enough,” they have a lot of opinions I agree with. Their book rips into the cultural beliefs that a woman who isn’t married is less valuable and that marriage improves every woman’s life. I love the numerous stories of women who live independently, staying true to what they want out of life and refusing to let a man ruin their balance and stability. Continue reading

The Criminal Brain

Cover of Rafter's The Criminal Brain showing two head shots

Cover of Rafter's The Criminal Mind showing two head shots

Criminologist / sociologist Nicole Rafter has a new book out, The Criminal Brain: Understanding Biological Theories of Crime, with NYU Press. The flyer here will give you a spanking 20% off, and I’d be happy to send it to anyone who needs one. Rafter has written extensively on crime, science, film, and, most relevant for me and many readers of this block, on the history of eugenics. Her White Trash: The Eugenic Family Studies: 1877 – 1919, which is surprisingly hard to get now (our library, with over 5 million volumes, doesn’t have it …) collects the now classic “white trash studies”, starting with Dugdale’s “The Jukes”, which provided the core of the scientific basis for eugenic sterilization policies in North America, including here in Alberta. You can get heaps more information about Rafter from her website. And for a special 20% discount … Continue reading

Knowing Thine Enemy?: a book to look out for

cover image for Enhancing Human Capacities by Julian Savulescu

cover image for Enhancing Human Capacities by Julian Savulescu et. al

Some of you — and especially philosophers on the ‘what sorts’ team — will know of a controversial Australian ex-pat ethicist who likes to provoke debate about what sorts of people there should be … No,this time it’s not Peter Singer (although Singer was his PhD supervisor), but rather Julian Savulescu of The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. Savulescu’s chief interest is the use of biotechnology for what he presumptively calls ‘human enhancement.’

When he worked for the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Savulescu wrote a piece called “In Defense of Selection for Nondisease Genes”.* As this community knows well, others have argued that it is defensible to engage in postconception selection against diseased genes, where the term diseased genes refers to:

a gene that causes a genetic disorder (e.g. cystic fibrosis) or predisposes to the development of a disease (e.g. the genetic contribution to cancer or dementia)

This argument in itself is highly contestable, given that it is reasonable to feel that a ‘diseased’ life of one with, say, cystic fibrosis — let alone one that down the line ends with cancer or dementia — is worth living… and more pertinently, that there are grave social consequences when that decision is made on others’ behalf as a matter of course. Savulescu, however, offers a far more radical thesis than this. Continue reading