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.

Office Address

Department of Latina/Latino Studies
1207 W. Oregon Street
M/C 136

Office Phone

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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Research Output

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Activities

    • 4 Oral presentation