Visiting professor Miroslava Chavez-Garcia gave a special lecture, States of Delinquency: Youth, Race, and Science at Whittier State School, 1890s to 1940s, on the history of the Whittier State School, also known as the Fred C. Nelles School on Monday.
Speaking to a packed audience in AJ Villalobos Hall, Chavez-Garcia presented her research that examines the history of the Nelles facility, focusing on the lives of youths of color â€” Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and African Americans, the largest ethnic and racial minority groups at the reformatory. The talk focused on how the application of science and scientific research, as well as the latest theories of delinquency, intelligence, heredity, and eugenics, criminalized, racialized, and pathologized incarcerated youths of color, rendering them "mentally defective." Subsequently, many youth identified as "defective," were transfer to state hospitals for permanent care and sometimes sterilization. The talk was followed by a Q&A session.
Chavez-Garcia also organized and led a tour through the nearby Nelles facility for staff and faculty.
This event was organized by sociology professor Julie Collins-Dogrul and co-sponsored by the Sociology Club, History Department, Hartley House, Dean of Students Office, and Ortiz Programs.