Natalie Lira

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Personal profile

Research Interests

  • Latina/o and Ethnic Studies
  • The politics of reproduction
  • Disability Studies
  • Chicana feminism
  • Histories of racial and reproductive justice
  • Histories of medicine and public health

Professional Information

Natalie Lira's research uncovers the largely neglected racial aspects of California’s eugenic sterilization program by providing evidence of the disproportionate institutionalization and sterilization of Mexican-origin women and men in state hospitals for the disabled during the first half of the twentieth century. Mobilizing an interdisciplinary mix of feminist, critical racial, and historical lenses, Dr. Lira's research illustrates how stereotypes of Mexican-origin women and men as mentally inferior, hypersexual, criminal and unfit for citizenship came together with emerging medical and scientific concepts of deviance, delinquency, and disability to justify institutionalization and reproductive constraint. Through statistical and discursive analyses of thousands of sterilization requests, consent forms, institutional publications, and social science theses her work shows how eugenic ideas about national and racial health, disability, and immigration determined the reproductive future of institutionalized populations. In addition to documenting Mexican-origin women and men's experiences of institutionalization and sterilization, Dr. Lira's research unearths the various ways Mexican-origin patients and their families challenged institutional authorities and sought to prevent sterilization. In doing so, her work figures Mexican-origin women and men's experiences of reproductive constraint, institutionalization, and their anti- sterilization efforts as central to twentieth century histories of racial and reproductive struggles.

Education/Academic qualification

American Culture, Ph.D., University of Michigan

… → 2015

American Culture, MA, University of Michigan

… → 2011

Latin American and Caribbean Studies, BA, University of Illinois

… → 2008

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Eugenics Medicine & Life Sciences
history of medicine Social Sciences
disability studies Social Sciences
Hispanic Americans Medicine & Life Sciences
feminism Social Sciences
public health Social Sciences
justice Social Sciences
politics Social Sciences

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Research Output 2014 2018

  • 2 Article
  • 1 Book/Film/Article review
  • 1 Comment/debate

Disproportionate sterilization of Latinos under California’s eugenic sterilization program, 1920-1945

Novak, N. L., Lira, N., O’Connor, K. E., Harlow, S. D., Kardia, S. L. R. & Minna Stern, A., May 2018, In : American journal of public health. 108, 5, p. 611-613 3 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

Hispanic Americans
Confidence Intervals

California's sterilization survivors: An estimate and call for redress

Stern, A. M., Novak, N. L., Lira, N., O'Connor, K., Harlow, S. & Kardia, S., Jan 2017, In : American journal of public health. 107, 1, p. 50-54 5 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Social Responsibility

Review: B. Gurr's Reproductive Justice: The Politics of Health Care for Native American Women

Lira, N., Feb 1 2016, In : Social History of Medicine. 29, 1, p. 200-201

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

public health

Activities 2014 2017

  • 4 Oral presentation