Abstract

The aim of the eugenics movement in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century was to prevent the degeneration of the white race. A central tactic of the movement was the involuntary sterilization of people labeled as feebleminded. An analysis of the practice of eugenic sterilization provides insight into how the concepts of gender, race, class, and dis/ability are fundamentally intertwined. I argue that in the early twentieth century, the concept of feeblemindedness came to operate as an umbrella concept that linked off-white ethnicity, poverty, and gendered conceptions of lack of moral character together and that feeblemindedness thus understood functioned as the signifier of tainted whiteness.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2001
Print ISSN
0887-5367
Pages
pp. 162-181
Launched on MUSE
2007-02-13
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived 2009
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