Campus Directory: Claudia Malacrida

University of Lethbridge

Claudia Malacrida


PhD (Sociology), University of Alberta; MA (Sociology), University of Calgary; BA (Sociology, with Distinction), University of Calgary


Disability, Health & Illness, Social Control, Sexuality, The Body, Poststructuralism

Research Areas

Childbirth and medicalization, Eugenics and Institutionalization, Sexuality and disability, Motherhood, Childbirth, Helping professionals, Health & illness, Policy formation and consultation, International comparative studies relating to disability

Previous Research Areas

Gender, Motherhood, Disability, Attention deficit disorder, Comparative studies

About Me

Associate Vice President (Research)
Professor of Sociology
University Scholar (Social Sciences, 2008-2010)
Board of Governors Research Chair, Tier I (2015)


My work investigates questions of power and the construction of difference historically and in the present. This has led to investigations of eugenics and institutionalization abuses in Alberta at the Michener Centre; comparative projects examining the challenges disabled women face in their sexual, relational and family lives, and; questions of power and medicalization in local childbirth practices.

Selected Publications

Refereed Publications - Books

Malacrida, Claudia (2015). A Special Hell: Institutional Life in Alberta's Eugenic Years. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Malacrida, Claudia and Jacqueline Low (2008). Sociology of the Body: A Reader. Toronto: Oxford University Press.

Malacrida, Claudia (1998 [2007]). Mourning the Dreams: How Parents Create Meaning from Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Early Infant Death. (1998) Edmonton: Qual Institute Press, University of Alberta; (2007) Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press.

Malacrida, Claudia (2003). Cold Comfort: Mothers, Professionals, and Attention Deficit Disorder. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Refereed Publications - Research Articles

Malacrida, Claudia. (2015). "Childbirth and Choice: Always, already medicalized?" Special issue of Current Sociology on Healthcare Choices, Jonathan Gabe and Michael Calnan, editors. 63(5) 636-651

Malacrida, Claudia; Semach, Tiffani (2014). "Sociological Perspectives on ADHD." In Oxford Bibliographies in "Childhood Studies." Ed. Heather Montgomery. New York: Oxford University Press. January.

Malacrida, Claudia and Tiffany Boulton. (2014). "The Best Laid Plan? Women's Choices, Expectations and Experiences in Childbirth." Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine. 18(1) 41 - 59.

Malacrida, Claudia (2012). Bodily Practices as Vehicles for Dehumanization in an Institution for 'Mental Defectives'. Embodied Action, Embodied Theory, Understanding the Body in Society: Special Issue. Societies 4(2). 286-301.

Malacrida, Claudia and Tiffany Boulton (2012). "Women's perceptions of childbirth 'choices': Competing discourses of motherhood, sexuality, and selflessness." Gender & Society. 26 (5). 748 - 772.

Boulton, Tiffany and Claudia Malacrida (2012). "Women and Cosmetic Breast Surgery: Weighing the Medical, Social and Lifestyle Risks." Qualitative Health Research. 22 (4). 511 - 523.

Malacrida, Claudia (2010). Understanding Income Support Policy in Canada and the United Kingdom: Women's Narratives and Critical Discourse Analysis. Disability & Society.25:6. 673 - 686.

Malacrida, Claudia (2009). "Gendered Ironies in Home Care: Surveillance, Gender Struggles and Infantilization". International Journal of Inclusive Education. 13(7). 741 - 752.

Malacrida Claudia (2009). "Performing Motherhood in a Disablist World: Dilemmas of Motherhood, Femininity and Disability." International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. 23(1). 99 - 117.

Malacrida, Claudia and Stefanie Duguay (2009). " 'The AISH Review is a Big Joke': Contradictions of policy participation and consultation in a neoliberal context." Disability & Society. 24 (1). 19 - 32.

Malacrida, Claudia (2007). "Negotiating the Dependency/Nurturance Tightrope: Dilemmas of Disabled Motherhood." The Canadian Review of Sociology. 44 (4). 469 - 493.

Malacrida, Claudia (2007). "Reflexive Journaling on Emotional Research Topics: Issues for Team Researchers." Qualitative Health Research. 17 (10). 1329 - 1340.

Malacrida, Claudia (2006). "Contested Memories: Efforts of the Powerful to Silence Former Inmates' Histories of Life in an Institution." Lessons from History: Special Issue. Disability & Society. 21 (5). 397 - 410.

Malacrida, Claudia (2005). "Discipline and Dehumanization in a Total Institution: Institutional Survivors' Descriptions of Time-Out Rooms. Disability & Society 20 (5). 523 - 537.

Malacrida, Claudia (2004). "Medicalization, ambivalence and social control: Mothers' description of educators and ADD/ADHD." Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine. 8 (1). 61 - 80.

Malacrida, Claudia (2002). "Alternative Therapies and Attention Deficit Disorder: Discourses of Motherhood, Science and Risk." Gender & Society. 16 (3). 366 - 385.

Malacrida, Claudia (2001). "Motherhood, Resistance and Attention Deficit Disorder: Strategies and Limits." The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology. 38 (2). 141 - 165.

Malacrida, Claudia (1999). "Complicating Mourning: The Social Economy of Perinatal Death." Qualitative Health Research. 9 (4). 504 - 519.

Malacrida, Claudia (1997). "Perinatal Death: Helping Parents Find Their Way." Journal of Family Nursing. 3 (2). 130 - 148.

Refereed Publications - Review Essays

Malacrida, Claudia (2005). "Ambiguity, Risk and Blame: Critical Responses to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome." Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine. 9(3) 417 - 424.

Refereed Publications - Book Chapters

Malacrida, Claudia (2015 [2006]). "Contested Memories: Efforts of the Powerful to Silence Former Inmates' Histories of Life in an Institution." (Revised from the original). Canadian Oral History Reader. Kristina R. Llewellyn, Alexander Freund, and Nolan Reilly, Editors. McGill-Queen's University Press.

Malacrida, Claudia (2013). "Whatever It Takes." In Monday Coffee & Other Stories of Mothering Children with Special Needs. Liz Whiteacre and Lyn Jones, editors. InWord Press. Indianapolis, Indiana. 86 - 100.

Malacrida, Claudia (2012). "Mothers with Disabilities: Implications for Theory and Practice." In The Routledge Handbook of Disability Studies, Nickolas Watson, Carol Thomas and Alan Roulstone, editors. New York and London: Routledge. 390 - 401.

Malacrida, Claudia (2012). "Relational teaching and mothers with disabilities: Bridging the public/private, dependency/nurturance divides." In Springgay, S. & Freedman, D., editors. Mothering a bodied curriculum: Emplacement, desire, affect. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. 88 - 102.

Malacrida, Claudia (2010). "Parents with Disabilities." In Canadian Families Today: New Perspectives. David Cheal, editor. Toronto: Oxford University Press. 213 - 233.

Malacrida, Claudia (2009). "How Do I Change His Nappy? Disabled Mothers and Cybercommunity." In The Body as Social Icon. Maria Bianca Pirani and Ivan Varga, editors. Lanham, Maryland: University of America Press. 157 - 178.

Malacrida, Claudia (2009 [2005]). "Discipline and Dehumanization in a Total Institution: Institutional Survivors' Descriptions of Time-Out Rooms." In Rethinking Normalcy: A Disability Studies Reader. Tanya Titchkosky & Rod Michalko, editors. Toronto, Ontario: Canadian Scholars Press Inc.

Malacrida, Claudia (2009). "Services for Mothers with Disabilities: Surveillance, Gender Struggles and Infantalization." In Sociology in a Changing World. Gregory Katsas, editor. Athens: Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER). 271 - 282.

Malacrida, Claudia (2008 [2005]). "Discipline and Dehumanization in a Total Institution: Institutional Survivors' Descriptions of Time-Out Rooms." In Sociology of the Body: A Reader. Claudia Malacrida and Jacqueline Low, editors. Toronto: Oxford University Press. 76 - 83.

Selected Creative Works

Check out the webpage on the Eugenics to Newgenics project:

In The Media

Websites: launched in May, 2014, this site presents data and narrative presentations taken from the Eugenics to Newgenics and Mothers with Disabilities SSHRC grants. As of August, 2015, the site has had over 13,000 visits and over 18,000 hits.
Desiree Schell (Host). (2015, May 29). A Special Hell [Radio broadcast episode]. In R. Saunders (Producer), Science for the People. Edmonton, AB, Canada: Science for the People.
Public Talks:
"Closing the Institution." Book Talk for A Special Hell. GRIT Centre, Edmonton, Alberta .October 18, 2015.
"Coming to Michener." Book Reading for A Special Hell. May 21. Cardel Centre, Calgary, Alberta.
May 21.
"Entering the Gulag." Book Launch and public reading for A Special Hell. James Foster Penny Building, Lethbridge, Alberta. February 12.
"Sexuality, Individuals with Disabilities, and Future Planning." Public talk and workshop for Lethbridge Association for Community Living and PLAN's "Pillars to a Good Life" series. With Dr. E. Anne Hughson. May 28, 2014.
Danielle Smith. News Talk 770. Controlling Sexuality and Reproduction. Calgary. August 11, 2015.
Calgary Eye Opener with David Grey. CBC Radio, Calgary. April 8.
Peter Watts. CJOC FM77 Radio News, Calgary. April 2.
CJOH 94.1 News, Lethbridge, April 1.
Newspapers and Magazine Interviews:
"U of L hosting 'Controlling Sexuality and Reproduction, Past and Present'." Melisa Villeneuve. Lethbridge Herald. August 12, 2015.
Sexual and reproductive rights to be examined during upcoming conference. UNews. Posted August 5, 2015.
"Author Explores Alberta's Eugenics Past." Lethbridge Herald. Lethbridge, Alberta. April 6.
"Provocative new book opens doors on life at Alberta's Michener Centre during province's eugenics years." Caroline Zentner. UNews: Research. University of Lethbridge. Lethbridge. April 1.
Newspaper article. "Book on Eugenics in Alberta a Cautionary Tale: Author." Red Deer Advocate. January 29.
"Oral History of Michener Centre Published in New Book: Rare Interviews with Residents and Former Workers at the Red Deer Institution." CBC News Online, Posted April 2.
Television Interview. CTV Alberta Primetime with Michael Higgins. April 16.
Television Interview. Global TV News, Lethbridge with Quinn Campbell. April 15.
Mary Horodyski. "Hell for the helpless: Intellectually disabled residents forcibly sterilized, routinely abused in Alberta institution's horror show." Winnipeg Free Press. June 6.
Nelle Oosterom. Canada's History. Book Reviews.

"Women with disabilities still facing barriers as they seek relationships, motherhood." UNews. November 28.
"People with Disabilities Still Discouraged from Parenthood." Red Deer Advocate. October 6.
"Birth Practices Probed." Red Deer Advocate. August 19.
"Eugenics to Newgenics." Alberta at Noon. Judy Ault, Host. CBC Radio, Calgary.
"Malacrida Examining Disability, Sexuality and Parenting in Alberta." UNews. October 28.
"Birth Experiences Often Fail to Meet Mothers' Expectations." The Legend. University of Lethbridge. June.
"University Study Examines Childbirth." Lethbridge Herald. May 27.
"Important to Catch Mental Health Issues Early in Life." Lethbridge Herald. May 10.

"No Need for Facilities Like Michener." Lethbridge Herald. December 19.
"Politics of Disability: SACPA Noon Talk Topic" Lethbridge Herald. December 17.
"University Scholarship Empowers Female Students" UNews. University of Lethbridge. July 13.

"Michener Centre: An oral history" in Bridges: The magazine that brings together Albertans on developmental disabilities. 15(4). 6-9. (Interview).

"Humanity, History and Intellectual Disability in Alberta. Lethbridge Herald. March 6.
"Challenges for Mothers of Children with Attention Deficit Disorder." Shaw Television, Interview for local programming.
"University of Lethbridge Researcher Receives Award" Lethbridge Herald. September 28.

Research Interests

I am currently involved in three major research projects:

Dis/Enabling Motherhood: Embodied and Social Aspects of Disabled Women's Experiences in Comparative Contexts (Canada and the UK)
This study examined the experiences of a wide range of disabled mothers from across Alberta and the United Kingdom about their experiences of 'doing motherhood'. The focus was on the day-to-day, lived experiences of dealing with motherhood and disability, but it also examined the social aspects of disability. These include attitudes, behaviours, funding, policies and program delivery that pose challenges to disabled parents and their families. The research is complete, however aspects of it have been incorporated into the Eugenics to Newgenics project.

The Culture of Birthing in Alberta: Questions of Risk, Choice and Responsibility
This study begins with current debates between medical practitioners, natural birth advocates, and feminist theorists concenring the increasing medicalization of childbirth; each of these groups have argued that mothers, doctors, or medical systems are responsible for growing rates of c-sections and other forms of birth intervention. The project involves interviews with childless women, mothers, birth educators, health professionals and an examination of policy and educational materials relating to birth to understand how women choose a given type of birth, how their choices play out in practice, and what the various stakeholders have to say about optimal birthing practices. The research is funded through AIHS and ACCFCR, and is ongoing.

Eugenics to Newgenics in Alberta
This projects makes connections between my historical work on Michener Center and the Eugenics Board and my research with mothers with disabilities. I seek to examine the continuities and discontinuities between traditional eugenic practices and current practices regarding sexual education, access to sexual experiences, and reproductive control for women with disabilities and mental health issues. This project is funded through a major SSHRC Insight Grant, running from 2013-2019.

Current Research and Creative Activity

TitleLocationGrant InformationPrincipal InvestigatorCo Researchers
Alberta Centre for Child Family and Community Research, SMALL Grant, $40,000, 2013.

Dis/Enabling Motherhood: Embodied and Social Aspects of Disabled Women?s Experiences Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), $85,000, 2004-07.

Claudia Malacrida, University of Lethbridge
Eugenics to Newgenics in Alberta Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant, $318,278, 2013-18.

Exploring Birth Choices in Cultural context Red Deer, Alberta SEED Grant, Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research, $10,000, 2014-5.

Expansion of pilot study to Red Deer, Alberta, to conduct qualitative research on attitudes, perceptions and practices relating to childbirth, responsibility and choice
Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada Canada Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), $1,000,000, 2010-2015.

Rob Wilson, University of Alberta Claudia Malacrida, University of Lethbridge
Motherhood and Disability in Comparative Contexts: Canada and The United Kingdom Canada; UK Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), $87,400, 2008-10.

Claudia Malacrida, University of Lethbridge Carol Thomas, Institute for Health and Research, Lancaster University
Pilot Study on C-section rates in Alberta as a cultural artifact Alberta Innovations Health Solutions, Sustainability Grant, $40,000, 2013-4.

Surviving the Institution: Life Histories of Michener Center's 'Mental Defectives' University of Lethbridge Research Fund, $4,500, 2005 - onward.

Claudia Malacrida, University of Lethbridge

Previous Research

TitleGrant AgencyCompletion Date
Fathers, Gender Roles & Children with Attention Deficit Disorder University of Lethbridge Research Fund 2004
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council CURA 2010-2012
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant 2008-2011
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant 2004-2006

Curriculum Vitae


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