I received news that funding for a second meeting with French and American colleagues to comparatively discuss governance of reproductive technologies has been approved! I look forward to reconnecting with these colleagues and developing a paper and presentation on embryo adoption for next May's meeting in Paris.
My colleague Lucy van de Wiel and I wrote a review of the fantastic "Remaking Reproduction" conference hosted by Cambridge University at the end of June. Check it out to see why thinking about reproduction is fundamental to understanding the wider social order:
Scholars of reproductive technologies are paying increasing attention to financial logics within IVF and its interface with stem cell research. In Melinda Cooper and Catherine Waldby’s (2014) analysis of clinical labor, they observed “uncanny hybridities of money, speculation, financialization, and in vitro tissues” within global tissue economies that are driven by desires to generate forms of value perceived to be latent within reproductive entities. Since the derivation of human embryonic stem cells in 1998, excess embryos left over from IVF and frozen for future have become a precious resource for stem cell researchers whose practices illustrate the uncanny hybridities of finance and reproductive remainder economies. Yet in addition to the expanding financial logics at the IVF-stem cell interface, more mundane accounting practices are at work too. Drawing on ethnographic research in a human embryo biobank based in a California university research lab, this paper analyzes one family’s donation of a diseased embryo for stem cell research that strives to “account for life” through care and cure. At the same time the donors hoped that their embryo could accelerate research toward a cure for the disease affecting their daughter and others in their community, they filed an unprecedented income tax exemption form to the United States Internal Revenue Service with an appraisal report estimating the value of the diseased embryo—a strategy they hoped could provide financial support in caring for their daughter. Such accounting practices may broaden how scholars of reproductive technologies examine the financialization of reproductive and regenerative medicine by reminding us to not overlook the banal, but no less speculative, instruments used to account for reproductive labor.
Cold Storage: Time, Temperature, and Transit in Feminist Science & Technology Studies symposium, Hampshire College
“Interrogating the Intersections of Race and Reproduction in Medicine, Science, and Technology," Wenner-Gren Foundation workshop, New York
This workshop was once the seed of an idea long ago and it is a privilege to be part of the conversations planned by/for anthropologists on the intersections of race and reproduction. Our stellar grant-writers and organizers, Natali Valdez and Daisy Deomampo, organized a productive 2-day workshop sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation during which anthropologists from around the world discussed each participant's pre-circulated article-length paper. I presented a paper examining the enactments of race in US Christian embryo adoption. I will use feedback from this workshop to revise the paper for submission to a special journal issue arranged with Medical Anthropology.
Here's a description of the workshop's vision from the funding grant, and keep an eye out for the forthcoming journal issue!
This workshop brings ethnographic research on reproduction into conversation with anthropological debates about race and identity. While there is a rich literature that examines the social and cultural implications of reproduction, relatively few ethnographic studies have placed race and racialization at the center of analysis. The primary goal of the workshop is to convene a group of junior and senior scholars who have been working in diverse ethnographic sites--such as the neonatal intensive care unit, the infertility clinic, or the embryo adoption agency--to incorporate theoretical insights of critical race studies into recent anthropological work on reproduction. This two-day workshop will include anthropologists from the U.S. as well as the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Brazil, and Australia, during which participants will comment on papers that have been exchanged prior to the workshop. The goal is to produce a special journal issue on this topic.
Also I represented the Council on Anthropology & Reproduction on the "Health, Care, and Well-being in Trump’s America" roundtable featuring Special Interest Groups (SIGs) from the Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA).