IHPST Alumna Elizabeth Koester Publishes New Book

September 18, 2021 by Edward Jones-Imhotep

Dr. Elizabeth Koester, IHPST alumna and instructor, has published a new book with McGill-Queen's University Press.

In the Public Good examines three legal processes that were used to advance eugenic ideas in Ontario between 1910 and 1938: legislative bills, provincial royal commissions, and the criminal trial of a young woman accused of distributing birth control information. Taken together, they reveal who in the province supported these ideas, how they were understood in relation to the public good, and how they were debated. Elizabeth Koester shows the ways in which the law was used both to promote and to deflect eugenics, and how the concept of the public good was used by supporters to add power to their cause.

With eugenic thinking finding new footholds in the possibilities offered by reproductive technologies, proposals to link welfare entitlement to “voluntary” sterilization, and concerns about immigration, In the Public Good adds depth to our understanding. Its exploration of the historical relationship between eugenics and law in Ontario prepares us to face the implications of “newgenics” today.

For more information, visit the McGill-Queen's University Press book page.