Date: 5.00–6.30 pm Lecture and Q&A followed by Reception, Monday 19 November 2018
Location: Room SW204,Stenhouse Wing, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare Annual Lecture
Canadian Population Control: Eugenics, Environment, and Feminism in the 1970s
Keynote Speaker: Prof Erika Dyck University of Saskatchewan
University of Strathclyde, Stenhouse Wing, Room SW204
Monday, 19 November 2018
5.00 – 6.30 pm Lecture and Q&A followed by Reception
The CSHHH invites you to its Annual Lecture taking place on Monday, 18 November 2018 at the University of Strathclyde.
All are welcome, but please reserve a place by emailing
firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Erika Dyck is a Professor and SSHRC Canada Research Chair in Medical History. She is the author of Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD from Clinic to Campus (Johns Hopkins, 2008; University of Manitoba Press, 2011); and Facing Eugenics: Reproduction, Sterilization and the Politics of Choice (University of Toronto, 2013), which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s award for Canadian non-fiction; and Managing Madness: the Weyburn Mental Hospital and the Transformation of Psychiatric Care in Canada (University of Manitoba Press, 2017), which won the Canadian Historical Association Prize for best book in Prairie History.
Population control in the 1970s had re-emerged as a critical issue, requiring careful multi-lateral management by states and moral guidance by religious and political leaders on the world stage. International attention focused primarily on the global south, where claims of overcrowding, poverty, and disease helped to resurrect ideas about the consequences of evolutionary biology coupled with the uneven distribution of resources, fusing together concerns about the environment and human welfare. Canadians fit into this puzzle rather awkwardly. For generations the spirit of nation building had been fueled by concerns about degeneration, insufficient birth rates, and often times xenophobic immigration policies. Now, in order to prove that Canadians could participate on the world stage in an era of international diplomacy and cooperation to solve problems of the planet, Canadians appeared rather hypocritical with their conservative views on birth control. Since 1892 the Criminal Code of Canada prohibited birth control, abortion, and homosexuality. In fact, the prohibitions even extended to restricting the sale or advertising of contraception – with penalties of jail time. If Canadians could not use birth control, how could policy makers insist on pedaling the same technologies elsewhere? I will present an historical examination of how reproductive politics in 1970s were shaped by competing discourses reminiscent of eugenics, but newly infused with concerns about the environment and food production.