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University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education
1197 S. Lumpkin St. Room Q Sponsored by: African American Studies, Institute for, Human Development and Disability, Institute on
Contact: Rebecca Brightwell Associate Director 706-542-6061
"State Sponsored Social Control: Involuntary Sterilization in Georgia." In Georgia one of the main institutions implementing the policy of involuntary sterilization was Gracewood Hospital, which admitted only white individuals. However, after the mid-1940s, Milledgeville State Hospital began to perform most of the involuntary sterilizations, and the number of African Americans subjected to these procedures skyrocketed. The increasing use of eugenics policies targeting African Americans corresponded with advances gained during the Civil Rights Movement.Leaders of the American eugenics movement sought to “better” the population through selective involuntary sterilization of those deemed unfit to reproduce. While eugenics policies were commonplace in some states, they did not gain widespread popularity in the South. However, several southern states did have eugenics programs in attempts to maintain racial “purity.” Policies initially targeted whites, as miscegenation laws and the threat of violence kept African Americans relatively isolated.
Amy D'Unger hypothesizes that such programs were used by the state to resist civil rights successes and exercise social control over the African American population. Using data from 1939-1970, she examines trends in the composition of the 4,900 patients sterilized in Georgia. In addition, using case files from the patients, she analyzes the rationale for sterilization of African Americans in the context of the changing climate of civil rights.D'Unger is a sociologist with interests in the areas of juvenile delinquency and crime, feminist criminology, life course sociology, social inequality and social control. Her previous research has looked at the impact of neighborhood social disorganization, peer networks, family structures and school ties on delinquency and crime over the life course. She currently is researching the role of eugenic (involuntary) sterilization in the South as a tool of informal social control, particularly during the Civil Rights Movement. D'Unger has published in such journals as the "American Journal of Sociology," the "Journal of Quantitative Criminology" and the "Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice" on topics such as criminal careers, gender and offending and feminist criminological theory.RSVP to email@example.com