In The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery Alys Eve Weinbaum investigates the continuing resonances of Atlantic slavery in the cultures and politics of human reproduction that characterize contemporary biocapitalism. As a form of racial capitalism that relies on the commodification of the human reproductive body, biocapitalism is dependent upon what Weinbaum calls the slave episteme—the racial logic that drove four centuries of slave breeding in the Americas and Caribbean. Weinbaum outlines how the slave episteme shapes the practice of reproduction today, especially through use of biotechnology and surrogacy. Engaging with a broad set of texts, from Toni Morrison's Beloved and Octavia Butler's dystopian speculative fiction to black Marxism, histories of slavery, and legal cases involving surrogacy, Weinbaum shows how black feminist contributions from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s constitute a powerful philosophy of history—one that provides the means through which to understand how reproductive slavery haunts the present.
Received an Honorable Mention for the 2015 First Michelle Rosaldo Prize for a First Book in Feminist Anthropology from the Association for Feminist Anthropology
Winner of the Adele E. Clarke Book Award from ReproNetwork
After Cuba’s 1959 revolution, the Castro government sought to instill a new social order. Hoping to achieve a new and egalitarian society, the state invested in policies designed to promote the well-being of women and children. Yet once the Soviet Union fell and Cuba’s economic troubles worsened, these programs began to collapse, with serious results for Cuban families.
Conceiving Cuba offers an intimate look at how, with the island’s political and economic future in question, reproduction has become the subject of heated public debates and agonizing private decisions. Drawing from several years of first-hand observations and interviews, anthropologist Elise Andaya takes us inside Cuba’s households and medical systems. Along the way, she introduces us to the women who wrestle with the difficult question of whether they can afford a child, as well as the doctors who, with only meager resources at their disposal, struggle to balance the needs of their patients with the mandates of the state.
Andaya’s groundbreaking research considers not only how socialist policies have profoundly affected the ways Cuban families imagine the future, but also how the current crisis in reproduction has deeply influenced ordinary Cubans’ views on socialism and the future of the revolution. Casting a sympathetic eye upon a troubled state, Conceiving Cuba gives new life to the notion that the personal is always political.
In Conceiving Masculinity, Liberty Walther Barnes puts the world of male infertility under the microscope to examine how culturally pervasive notions of gender shape our understanding of disease, and how disease impacts our personal ideas about gender.
Taking readers inside male infertility clinics, and interviewing doctors and couples dealing with male infertility, Barnes provides a rich account of the social aspects of the confusing and frustrating diagnosis of infertility. She explains why men resist a stigmatizing label like "infertile," and how men with poor fertility redefine for themselves what it means to be manly and masculine in a society that prizes male virility. Conceiving Masculinity also details how and why men embrace medical technologies and treatment for infertility.
Broaching a socially taboo topic, Barnes emphasizes that infertility is not just a women's issue. She shows how gender and disease are socially constructed within social institutions and by individuals.
“Will the future confront us with human GMOs? Greely provocatively declares yes, and, while clearly explaining the science, spells out the ethical, political, and practical ramifications.”—Paul Berg, Nobel Laureate and recipient of the National Medal of Science
Within twenty, maybe forty, years most people in developed countries will stop having sex for the purpose of reproduction. Instead, prospective parents will be told as much as they wish to know about the genetic makeup of dozens of embryos, and they will pick one or two for implantation, gestation, and birth. And it will be safe, lawful, and free. In this work of prophetic scholarship, Henry T. Greely explains the revolutionary biological technologies that make this future a seeming inevitability and sets out the deep ethical and legal challenges humanity faces as a result.
“Readers looking for a more in-depth analysis of human genome modifications and reproductive technologies and their legal and ethical implications should strongly consider picking up Greely’s The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction… [It has] the potential to empower readers to make informed decisions about the implementation of advancements in genetics technologies.” —Dov Greenbaum, Science
“[Greely] provides an extraordinarily sophisticated analysis of the practical, political, legal, and ethical implications of the new world of human reproduction. His book is a model of highly informed, rigorous, thought-provoking speculation about an immensely important topic.” —Glenn C. Altschuler, Psychology Today
Are girls entering puberty earlier than they used to? This question, which has been debated recently by doctors and scientists in the pages of Time magazine and the New York Times, proves that there is still a great deal to learn about women's reproductive health. Female Fertility and the Body-Fat Connection is the record of one scientist's groundbreaking and decades-long work on the connections among fertility, body fat, and reproductive health in women.
Rose E. Frisch explains here how, in women, a certain amount of body fat is crucial to the reproductive system and sexual maturation. Women who are too lean are infertile and cannot conceive children; young girls who are too thin have a delayed onset of their first period. Female Fertility and the Body-Fat Connection illuminates how and why a "critical fitness" level underlies a woman's reproductive health. In the process Frisch gives readers a comprehensive view of the research done to date on the relationship between body composition and fertility and also describes her own journey as a woman scientist working to advance her critical-fitness hypothesis both to the general public and the scientific community. Frisch answers the questions every woman has about the desirable weight for health and fertility and even includes tables to help women find their own best weight. She also demonstrates how important diet and exercise are for the long-term reproductive health of women, and shows what factors influence the onset of puberty in girls.
Each milestone of the reproductive life span is affected by food intake and energy output, the factors affecting the storage of fat. Female Fertility and the Body-Fat Connection is a cornerstone to understanding the health of girls and women.
This distinctive collection explores the construction of genealogies—in both the biological sense of procreation and the metaphorical sense of heritage and cultural patrimony. Focusing specifically on the discourses that inform such genealogies, Generation and Degeneration moves from Greco-Roman times to the recent past to retrace generational fantasies and discords in a variety of related contexts, from the medical to the theological, and from the literary to the historical. The discourses on reproduction, biology, degeneration, legacy, and lineage that this book broaches not only bring to the forefront concepts of sexual identity and gender politics but also show how they were culturally constructed and reconstructed through the centuries by medicine, philosophy, the visual arts, law, religion, and literature. The contributors reflect on a wide range of topics—from what makes men “manly” to the identity of Christ’s father, from what kinds of erotic practices went on among women in sixteenth-century seraglios to how men’s hemorrhoids can be variously labeled. Essays scrutinize stories of menstruating males and early writings on the presumed inferiority of female bodily functions. Others investigate a psychomorphology of the clitoris that challenges Freud’s account of lesbianism as an infantile stage of sexual development and such topics as the geographical origins of medicine and the materialization of genealogy in the presence of Renaissance theatrical ghosts. This collection will engage those in English, comparative, Italian, Spanish, and French studies, as well as in history, history of medicine, and ancient and early modern religious studies.
Contributors. Kevin Brownlee, Marina Scordilis Brownlee, Elizabeth Clark, Valeria Finucci, Dale Martin, Gianna Pomata, Maureen Quilligan, Nancy Siraisi, Peter Stallybrass,Valerie Traub
By the year 2030, the average life expectancy of women in industrialized countries could reach ninety—exceeding that of men by about ten years. At the present time, postmenopausal women represent more than fifteen percent of the world’s population and this figure is likely to grow.
From an evolutionary perspective, these demographic numbers pose some intriguing questions. Darwinian theory holds that a successful life is measured in terms of reproduction. How is it, then, that a woman’s lifespan can greatly exceed her childbearing and childrearing years? Is this phenomenon simply a byproduct of improved standards of living, or do older women—grandmothers in particular—play a measurable role in increasing their family members’ biological success?
Until now, these questions have not been examined in a thorough and comprehensive manner. Bringing togethertheoretical and empirical work byinternationally recognized scholars in anthropology, psychology, ethnography, and the social sciences, Grandmotherhood explores the evolutionary purpose and possibilities of female post-generative life. Students and scholars of human evolution, anthropology, and even gerontology will look to this volume as a major contribution to the current literature in evolutionary studies.
"Brilliant and intimate. The book is an eloquent rendition of the expansive spatial abstractions and mimetic revolutionary re-imagination it proposes." -Social and Cultural Geography
Growing Up Global examines the processes of development and global change through the perspective of children’s lives in two seemingly disparate places: New York City and a village in northern Sudan. At the book’s core is a longitudinal ethnographic study of children growing up in a Sudanese village that was included in a large state-sponsored agricultural program in the year they were born. It follows a small number of children intermittently from ten years of age to early adulthood, concentrating particularly on their work and play, which together trained the children for an agrarian life centered around the family, a life that was quickly becoming obsolete.
Shifting her focus to largely working-class families in New York City in the 1980s and 1990s, Katz is able to expose unsuspected connections with the Sudanese experience in the effects on children of a constantly changing, capitalist environment—the decline of manufacturing jobs and the increase in knowledge-based jobs—in which young people with few skills and stunted educations face bleak employment prospects. In teasing out how “development” transforms the grounds on which these young people come of age, Cindi Katz provides a textured analysis of the importance of knowledge in the ability of people, families, and communities to reproduce themselves and their material social practices over time.
In US security culture, motherhood is a site of intense contestation--both a powerful form of cultural currency and a target of unprecedented assault. Linked by an atmosphere of crisis and perceived vulnerability, motherhood and nation have become intimately entwined, dangerously positioning national security as reliant on the control of women's bodies. Drawing on feminist scholarship and critical studies of security culture, Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz explores homeland maternity by calling our attention to the ways that authorities see both non-reproductive and "overly" reproductive women's bodies as threats to social norms--and thus to security. Homeland maternity culture intensifies motherhood's requirements and works to discipline those who refuse to adhere. Analyzing the opt-out revolution, public debates over emergency contraception, and other controversies, Fixmer-Oraiz compellingly demonstrates how policing maternal bodies serves the political function of securing the nation in a time of supposed danger--with profound and troubling implications for women's lives and agency.
Aristotle believed semen to be the purest of all bodily secretions, a vehicle for the spirit or psyche that gives form to substance. For Proust’s narrator in Swann’s Way, waking to find he has experienced a nocturnal emission, it is the product of “some misplacing of my thigh.” The heavy metal band Metallica used it to adorn an album cover. Beyond its biological function, semen has been applied with surprising frequency to metaphorical and narratological purposes.
In Images of Bliss, Murat Aydemir undertakes an original and extensive analysis of images of male orgasm and semen. In a series of detailed case studies—Aristotle’s On the Generation of Animals; Andres Serrano’s use of bodily fluids in his art; paintings by Holbein and Leonardo; Proust’s In Search of Lost Time; hard-core pornography (both straight and gay); and key texts from the poststructuralist canon, including Lacan on the phallus, Bataille on expenditure, Barthes on bliss, and Derrida on dissemination—Aydemir traces the complex and often contradictory possibilities for imagination, description, and cognition that both the idea and the reality of semen make available. In particular, he foregrounds the significance of male ejaculation for masculine subjectivity. More often than not, Aydemir argues, the event or object of ejaculation emerges as the instance through which identity, meaning, and gender are not so much affirmed as they are relentlessly and productively questioned, complicated, and displaced.
Combining close readings of diverse works with subtle theoretical elaboration and a keen eye for the cultural ideals and anxieties attached to sexuality, Images of Bliss offers a convincing and long overdue critical exploration of ejaculation in Western culture.
Murat Aydemir is assistant professor of comparative literature at the University of Amsterdam.
This book is a case study that shows how interest groups use the litigation process to further their policy agendas. The case detailed here revolves around issues of reproductive health. It is a good illustration of the commonly held view among judicial scholars that the judicial process is essentially the same as the political process, that in both cases there is room for influence from a variety of sources.
Reproduction is among the most basic of human biological functions, both for our distant ancestors and for ourselves, whether we live on the plains of Africa or in North American suburbs. Our reproductive biology unites us as a species, but it has also been an important engine of our evolution. In the way our bodies function today we can see both the imprint of our formative past and implications for our future. It is the infinitely subtle and endlessly dramatic story of human reproduction and its evolutionary context that Peter T. Ellison tells in On Fertile Ground.
Ranging from the latest achievements of modern fertility clinics to the lives of subsistence farmers in the rain forests of Africa, this book offers both a remarkably broad and a minutely detailed exploration of human reproduction. Ellison, a leading pioneer in the field, combines the perspectives of anthropology, stressing the range and variation of human experience; ecology, sensitive to the two-way interactions between humans and their environments; and evolutionary biology, emphasizing a functional understanding of human reproductive biology and its role in our evolutionary history.
Whether contrasting female athletes missing their periods and male athletes using anabolic steroids with Polish farm women and hunter-gatherers in Paraguay, or exploring the intricate choreography of an implanting embryo or of a nursing mother and her child, On Fertile Ground advances a rich and deeply satisfying explanation of the mechanisms by which we reproduce and the evolutionary forces behind their design.
Plundered Kitchens, Empty Wombs examines the symbolic language of food, fertility, and infertility in a small, mountainous African kingdom to explore more general notions of gender, modernity, and cultural identity.
In the Cameroon grassfields, an area of high fertility, women hold a paradoxical fear of infertility. By combining symbolic, political-economic, and historical analyses, Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg traces the way reproductive threat is invoked in struggles over gender and ethnic identities. Women's fears of reproductive disorders, she finds, are an important mode of expression for their worries about much larger issues, such as rural poverty, brought about or exacerbated by political and economic changes in this century.
A lively case study of an infertile queen who flees the palace sets the stage for discussions of the ethnographic and historical setting, the symbolism of fertility and infertility, and the development and interaction of cosmopolitan and ethno-gynecologies. The book concludes with an analysis of the links between women's role in human reproduction and the divine king's role in social reproduction, both occurring in the rapidly changing context of a multiethnic African nation. Plundered Kitchens, Empty Wombs underscores the relevance of medical anthropology to other anthropological specializations, as well as to epidemiologists, population specialists, and development planners. It should reach a broad audience in medical anthropology, public health, and women's studies.
Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg is Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Carleton College.
As reproductive power finds its way into the hands of medical professionals, lobbyists, and policymakers, the geographies of pregnancy are shifting, and the boundaries need to be redrawn, argues Laura R. Woliver. Across a politically charged backdrop of reproductive issues, Woliver exposes strategies that claim to uphold the best interests of children, families, and women but in reality complicate women's struggles to have control over their own bodies. Utilizing feminist standpoint theory and promoting a feminist ethic of care, Woliver looks at the ways modern reproductive politics are shaped by long-standing debates on abortion and adoption, surrogacy arrangements, new reproductive technologies, medical surveillance, and the mapping of the human genome.
This volume brings together feminist social and biomedical scholars from the Southern and Northern hemispheres to examine the aggregate forces that affect reproductive choice. Drawing on numerous case studies, this book examines the range of social, economic, and scientific policies which collectively impact on reproductive well being. Power and Decision offers an analysis of how disparate policies, seemingly unrelated to reproduction, are implicitly “pro-natalist” or “anti-natalist.” Moreover, these policies are imbued with gender, race, and class biases. The authors examine the reproductive impact of welfare and parental leave legislation, health services, adoption policies, biomedical research, the global transfer and regulation of reproductive technologies, and international family planning programs.
Offering a rare global feminist critique of social policy, this volume makes explicit the direction of current legislative, economic, and scientific trends, providing a basis for discussion, debate, and possible redress.
Defining the proper female body, seeking elective surgery for beauty, enjoying lavish spa treatments, and combating impotence might seem like today’s celebrity infatuations. However, these preoccupations were very much alive in the early modern period. Valeria Finucci recounts the story of a well-known patron of arts and music in Renaissance Italy, Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga of Mantua (1562–1612), to examine the culture, fears, and captivations of his times. Using four notorious moments in Vincenzo’s life, Finucci explores changing concepts of sexuality, reproduction, beauty, and aging.
The first was Vincenzo’s inability to consummate his earliest marriage and subsequent medical inquiry, which elucidates new concepts of female anatomy. Second, Vincenzo’s interactions with Bolognese doctor Gaspare Tagliacozzi, the “father of plastic surgery,” illuminate contemporary fascinations with elective procedures. Vincenzo’s use of thermal spas explores the proliferation of holistic, noninvasive therapies to manage pain, detoxify, and rehabilitate what the medicine of the time could not address. And finally, Vincenzo’s search for a cure for impotence later in life analyzes masculinity and aging.
By examining letters, doctors’ advice, reports, receipts, and travelogues, together with (and against) medical, herbal, theological, even legal publications of the period, Finucci describes an early modern cultural history of the pathology of human reproduction, the physiology of aging, and the science of rejuvenation as they affected a prince with a large ego and an even larger purse. In doing so, she deftly marries salacious tales with historical analysis to tell a broader story of Italian Renaissance cultural adjustments and obsessions.
Reproduction, Globalization, and the State conceptualizes and puts into practice a global anthropology of reproduction and reproductive health. Leading anthropologists offer new perspectives on how transnational migration and global flows of communications, commodities, and biotechnologies affect the reproductive lives of women and men in diverse societies throughout the world. Based on research in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Western Europe, their fascinating ethnographies provide insight into reproduction and reproductive health broadly conceived to encompass population control, HIV/AIDS, assisted reproductive technologies, paternity tests, sex work, and humanitarian assistance. The contributors address the methodological challenges of research on globalization, including ways of combining fine-grained ethnography with analyses of large-scale political, economic, and ideological forces. Their essays reveal complex interactions among global and state population policies and politics; public health, human rights, and feminist movements; diverse medical systems; various religious practices, doctrines, and institutions; and intimate relationships and individual aspirations.
Contributors. Aditya Bharadwaj, Caroline H. Bledsoe, Carole H. Browner, Junjie Chen, Aimee R. Eden, Susan L. Erikson, Didier Fassin, Claudia Lee Williams Fonseca, Ellen Gruenbaum, Matthew Gutmann, Marcia C. Inhorn, Mark B. Padilla, Rayna Rapp, Lisa Ann Richey, Carolyn Sargent, Papa Sow, Cecilia Van Hollen, Linda Whiteford
In Reproductive Justice, sociologist Barbara Gurr provides the first analysis of Native American women’s reproductive healthcare and offers a sustained consideration of the movement for reproductive justice in the United States.
The book examines the reproductive healthcare experiences on Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota Nation in South Dakota—where Gurr herself lived for more than a year. Gurr paints an insightful portrait of the Indian Health Service (IHS)—the federal agency tasked with providing culturally appropriate, adequate healthcare to Native Americans—shedding much-needed light on Native American women’s efforts to obtain prenatal care, access to contraception, abortion services, and access to care after sexual assault. Reproductive Justice goes beyond this local story to look more broadly at how race, gender, sex, sexuality, class, and nation inform the ways in which the government understands reproductive healthcare and organizes the delivery of this care. It reveals why the basic experience of reproductive healthcare for most Americans is so different—and better—than for Native American women in general, and women in reservation communities particularly. Finally, Gurr outlines the strengths that these communities can bring to the creation of their own reproductive justice, and considers the role of IHS in fostering these strengths as it moves forward in partnership with Native nations.
Reproductive Justice offers a respectful and informed analysis of the stories Native American women have to tell about their bodies, their lives, and their communities.
Wayward Reproductions breaks apart and transfigures prevailing understandings of the interconnection among ideologies of racism, nationalism, and imperialism. Alys Eve Weinbaum demonstrates how these ideologies were founded in large part on what she calls “the race/reproduction bind”––the notion that race is something that is biologically reproduced. In revealing the centrality of ideas about women’s reproductive capacity to modernity’s intellectual foundations, Weinbaum highlights the role that these ideas have played in naturalizing oppression. She argues that attention to how the race/reproduction bind is perpetuated across national and disciplinary boundaries is a necessary part of efforts to combat racism.
Gracefully traversing a wide range of discourses––including literature, evolutionary theory, early anthropology, Marxism, feminism, and psychoanalysis––Weinbaum traces a genealogy of the race/reproduction bind within key intellectual formations of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She examines two major theorists of genealogical thinking—Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault—and unearths the unacknowledged ways their formulations link race and reproduction. She explores notions of kinship and the replication of racial difference that run through Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s work; Marxist thinking based on Friedrich Engel’s The Origin of the Family; Charles Darwin’s theory of sexual selection; and Sigmund Freud’s early studies on hysteria. She also describes W. E. B. Du Bois’s efforts to transcend ideas about the reproduction of race that underwrite citizenship and belonging within the United States. In a coda, Weinbaum brings the foregoing analysis to bear on recent genomic and biotechnological innovations.