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Rachell Sanchez Rivera

Rachell Sá​nchez-Rivera


Rachell Sánchez holds a B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus and a M.A. in Regional Studies—Latin America and the Caribbean from Columbia University in the City of New York.


There are seventeen states out of the thirty-two in Mexico that do not have a clear policy condemning forced and coerced sterilization of women nowadays. After the eugenics movement, notions and ideas of race as something that is damaged and in need of fixing in the search to have a “better” national body became legitimized by the notion of science as truth. This becomes expressed in a series of practices and procedures in order to better the race and modernize the nation. My work focuses on how Mexican sexuality in its relation to eugenics becomes a key element in the nation building process from the last third of 19th Century onwards. This series of practices and discourses disseminates which bodies are deemed acceptable for the reproduction of imaginary ideas that construct the nation. Simultaneously, they determine who should be able to reproduce and who should not. Since the last third of the 19th Century, one can start to note how the Mexican nation building process is so embedded in racialized ideas, eugenic beliefs, gendered logic, class thought and so on. These elements shape political, social, economic and cultural thought throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries. The fact that there are bodies that should not be able to reproduce under the “truth of science” justifies the notion that deems acceptable practices of sterilization to a sector of Mexican women without their full and informed consent.

Logics of race, eugenics, gender and class are produced and reproduced by the State and are justified under biological and scientific discourse by popular and common belief. These logics legitimize the actions of different characters like the state, some academic groups and diverse sectors of the population to force and coerce women to get sterilized because they do not fit into the idea of a healthy and hygienic national body. In short, my project will explore how eugenic policy-making and the idea of preventing the degeneracy of the nation in Mexico have helped pave a series of cases of forced and coerced sterilization in Mexico. These mass sterilization cases usually appeared among people that lived in rural areas of Mexico in which the majority of the population are from indigenous descent; people with mental and physical; and, after the HIV crisis, there has been a lot of cases of malpractice and sterilization within women who are diagnosed as HIV positive.

Supervisor: Dr. Mónica Moreno Figueroa

Research Interests

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Queer Theory
  • Comparative Politics
  • History
  • International Relations