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POVERTY, RACE, AND THE POLITICS OF REPRODUCTION

Term: Spring 2014


Time: T/Th 3:00-4:20
Location: Cobb 102
Instructor: Samuel L. Perry
Office hours: by appointment
Office: Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, Rm. 307
Contact: samperry@uchicago.edu
COURSE DESCRIPTION
Throughout American history, political actors in power have sought to control subordinated
populations (lower castes or classes, racial/ethnic minorities, women, immigrants, homosexuals)
through a variety of often-interconnected means including enslavement, extermination, deportation,
segregation, incarceration, and through constraints placed on their reproductive abilities and
practices. This course will explore the role of the state in regulating reproduction in the United
States, with a particular focus on the reproduction of low-income, urban minorities. After surveying
historical practices of the state in regulating the reproductive practices and abilities of denigrated
groups (e.g., through slave breeding, eugenics, anti-miscegenation laws, and forced sterilization) and
locating reproductive issues within the broader context of class, gender, sex, and race-based
domination, we will explore a range of issues including the role of welfare policy in regulating the
fertility of low-income minority mothers; the promotion of transracial adoption as a neoliberal
stratagem to relieve the government from subsidizing low-income minority mothers or their
children; the link between urban poverty and anti-abortion politics; the regulation of reproduction
through the incarceration of low-income minorities; and contemporary debates about the fertility of
Latin American populations and the link between reproduction and regulating immigration from
Latin American countries.
PREREQUISITES
Prerequisites include one or more general introductory courses in public policy, sociology, a related
social science, or permission of the instructor.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS
The course will include both lecture and discussion. Students will be responsible for attending class,
participating in class discussion (participation = 25% of course grade), reading all the material (as
demonstrated in 3 reflection papers = 45% of course grade) and a final paper (30% of course grade).
The requirements for the reflection papers and final paper will be posted on the Chalk site.
COURSE READINGS
Readings will consist of journal articles and book chapters. Articles and some chapters will be posted
on the Chalk site. Books can all be found at the seminary co-op or cheaply on Amazon.
REQUIRED BOOKS
Briggs, Laura. 2012. Somebodys Children: The Politics and Transracial and Transnational
Adoption. Durham, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
Hernstein, Richard J. and Charles Murray. 1994. The Bell Curve: Intelligence and
Class Structure in American Life. New York: Free Press.

Samuel L. Perry Poverty, Race, and the Politics of Reproduction (Chicago 2014), page 2

Roberts, Dorothy. 1997. Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of
Liberty. New York: Vintage Books.
Solinger, Rickie. 2001. Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption,
Abortion, and Welfare in the United States. New York: Hill and Wang.
READINGS AND ASSIGNMENTS SCHEDULE (**SUBJECT TO CHANGE**):
Week
Topic and Readings
Assignment
Week 1

Historical Foundations

4/1 Regulating Reproduction within the Broader Context of Oppression


4/3 Roberts, Introduction, Chapter 1 and 2
Week 2

Historical Foundations, contd

4/8 Roberts, Chapter 3


4/10 Roberts, Chapter 4
Week 3

Low-Income, Minority Mothers and the Politics of Welfare

4/15 Smith, Welfare Reform and Sexual Regulation (pp. 1-84) (Chalk)

Paper # 1

4/17 Roberts, Chapter 5; Roberts Privatization and Punishment in the New


Age of Reprogenetics (Chalk)
Week 4

Low-Income, Minority Mothers and the Politics of Welfare

4/22 Solinger, Chapter 1, 5 and 6


4/24 Smith, Welfare Reform and Sexual Regulation (pp. 118-188) (Chalk)
Week 5

Low-Income, Minority Mothers and the Politics of Welfare

4/29 Murray and Herrnstein, Chapters 5, 8-10; DSouza Uncle Toms


Dilemma (Chalk)
5/1 Murray and Herrnstein, Chapters 13-14, 16, 22
Week 6

Poverty, Race, and Reproductive Health Care Politics

5/6 Solinger, Chapter 2 and 3


5/8 Roberts, Chapter 6; Roberts Race, Gender, and Genetic Technologies
(Chalk)
Week 7

Child Welfare Policy and the Politics of Adoption and Foster Care

5/13 Davis, History: The Changing Face of Adoption (Chalk); Solinger,


Chapter 4
5/15 Briggs, Chapter 1-2
Week 8

Child Welfare Policy and the Politics of Adoption and Foster Care

5/21 Briggs, Chapter 3-4

Paper # 2

Samuel L. Perry Poverty, Race, and the Politics of Reproduction (Chicago 2014), page 3

5/22 Wildeman and Waldfogel article (Chalk); Roberts, Prison, Foster Care,
and the Systemic Punishment of Black Mothers (Chalk)
Week 9

Immigration and Reproduction

5/27 Wilde and Danielsen, Fewer and Better Children (chalk); Murray and

Paper # 3

Hernstein, Chapter 15
5/29 Roberts, Who May Give Birth to Citizens? (Chalk); Huang, Anchor
Babies, Over-Breeders, and the Population Bomb (Chalk); Briggs,
Epilogue
Week 10

The Future of Poverty, Race, and Regulated Reproduction

6/3 Roberts, Chapter 7; Briggs, Chapter 7; Smith Feminist Visions (Chalk)


6/5 Reading period: No Class
Finals Week

Final paper