Laboratory of Deficiency: Sterilization and Confinement in California, 1900–1950s

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook


Pacific Colony, a Southern California institution established to care for the "feebleminded," justified the incarceration, sterilization, and forced mutilation of some of the most vulnerable members of society from the 1920s through the 1950s. Institutional records document the convergence of ableism and racism in Pacific Colony. Analyzing a vast archive, Natalie Lira reveals how political concerns over Mexican immigration—particularly ideas about the low intelligence, deviant sexuality, and inherent criminality of the "Mexican race"—shaped decisions regarding the treatment and reproductive future of Mexican-origin patients. Labaratory of Deficiency documents the ways Mexican-origin people sought out creative ways to resist institutional control and offers insight into the ways race, disability, and social deviance have been called upon to justify the confinement and reproductive constraint of certain individuals in the name of public health and progress.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherUniversity of California Press
Number of pages284
ISBN (Electronic)9780520975965
ISBN (Print)9780520355675, 9780520355682
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Publication series

NameReproductive Justice: A New Vision for the 21st Century

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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