Technologies of Procreation: Kinship in the Age of Assisted Conception

Technologies of Procreation: Kinship in the Age of Assisted Conception

Technologies of Procreation: Kinship in the Age of Assisted Conception

Technologies of Procreation: Kinship in the Age of Assisted Conception

Synopsis

Technologies of Procreation brings a fresh approach to the analysis of the social and cultural implications of assisted conception technologies. It explores how these techniques create the potential for a redefinition of relationships, because it is now possible to create life on behalf of another person. This second edition presents significant new material that enhances the original argument. By drawing on ethnographic studies, household interviews, and debates in government and among clinicians, the authors offer an insightful examination of the transformations of parenthood, procreation and kinship in the context of new reproductive technologies.

Excerpt

The authors

Kinship in the age of assisted conception has turned out to be a more thought-provoking subject than one could ever have imagined.

Why kinship? To a greater or lesser extent, part of everyone's identity as a person is derived from knowledge about their birth and about how they were brought up. It follows that such knowledge is also social knowledge, in that it presumes connection and relationship with others. Those others are persons with their own identities, so that kinship entails intimate participation in the way other people construe their identity too. Here, among different populations or at different times in history, birth, nurture, inheritance and diverse ways of maintaining relationships have all received different emphasis. The late twentieth-century development of the means to alter what many would have said were immutable processes of birth has created a new and complex vehicle for conceptualising connections.

The increasing visibility of outside assistance throws into relief the significance of birth over other ways of creating connections between kin. At the same time, that assistance changes the field within which such connections are mobilised and normalised. Those who in the past would have suffered infertility in silence, or turned to adoption, may feel they should be seeking out remedies for failure to bear children themselves. In so doing they act out new definitions of what it is to have one's 'own' child, and refigure the field of relatives. And the very procedures of assistance throw further into relief the significance of the means through which these ends can be achieved. For the people who are the subjects of this book, these means are both social-that is, comprising everything that goes into the practice or intention of bearing a child (what conceiving and giving birth 'means')-and also, importantly, technical. Seen as harnessing science, technical means frequently amount in people's eyes to a 'technology', and reproductive medicine is widely regarded as having become technology-enhanced. 'Assistance' of a technological nature which has the capacity to intervene in the lives of some has the potential of making everyone aware

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