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Conversation: Dr. Alexandra Stern & Dr. Dana-Ain Davis
This conversation, between Dr, Alexandra Stern, author of “Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America,” and Dr. Dana-Ain Davis, author of “Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth,” will focus on community-led interventions including Stern’s work at the Sterilization & Social Justice Lab and Dr. Davis’ work against Black infant and maternal mortality rooted in Reproductive Justice.
Dr. Alexandra Stern
Alexandra Minna Stern, Ph.D. is the Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor of American Culture, History, and Women’s Studies and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan. Most of her research has focused on the uses and misuses of genetics in the United States and Latin America. She is the author of the award-winning Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America which was published in second edition by University of California Press in 2015. She also is author of Telling Genes: The Story of Genetic Counseling in America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), a Choice 2013 Outstanding Academic Title in Health Sciences. Her most recent book, Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right is Warping the American Imagination (Beacon Press, 2019) applies the lenses of historical analysis, feminist studies, and critical race studies to deconstruct the core ideas of the far right and white nationalism in the United States. Stern is the PI of the Sterilization and Social Justice Lab, which uses mixed methods to study patterns and experiences of eugenic sterilization in the twentieth-century United States; this research has informed the recently passed reparations bill to compensate survivors of compulsory sterilization in California. Stern has held numerous grants including from the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Institutes of Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Dána-Ain Davis is Professor of Urban Studies and Anthropology. She is the director of the Center for the Study of Women and Society at the Graduate Center. In the last decade, Davis has focused her attention on reproduction, race and the technologies that assist in reproduction. She has written several articles addressing issues of reproduction and racism including, “The Politics of Reproduction: The Troubling Case of Nadya Suleman”; “Obstetric Racism: The Racial Politics of Pregnancy, Labor, and Birthing”; and “The Bone Collectors.” She is the author, co-author, or co-editor of five books, the most recent being Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth. Reproductive Injustice received the 2020 Honorable Mention for the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing; was a finalist for the 2020 PROSE AWARD, given by the Association of American Publishers; and is listed as one of seven books on anti-racism in New York Magazine. In Reproductive Injustice, Davis examines medical racism in the lives of professional Black women who have given birth prematurely. The book shows that race confounds the perception that class is root of adverse birth outcomes and lifts up the role that birth workers—midwives, doulas, and birth advocates—play in addressing Black women’s birth outcomes.