Pelvimetry and the persistance of racial science in obstetrics

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


In the late nineteenth century, Mexican scientists became fixated on pelvic structure as an indicator of racial difference and hereditary worth. Forty years later, in his 1931 dissertation, medical student Gustavo Aldolfo Trangay proposed the implementation of a eugenic sterilization campaign in Mexico. He even reported performing clandestine sterilizations in public clinics, despite federal laws that prohibited doctors from doing so. Trangay reasoned that his patients were unfit for motherhood, and he claimed that their small pelvic cavities were a sign of biological inferiority. His focus on anatomical measurements - and especially pelvic measurements - was not novel in Mexico, but his work shows how doctors used nineteenth century racial science to rationalize eugenic sterilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-28
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science


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