[URBANTH-L] CFP: 'Irrational' Reproduction: Population Politics and Practices at the Intersections of North and South

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Fri Mar 7 15:38:30 EST 2008

From: Milena Marchesi (milena at anthro.umass.edu)

Proposed Session: "Irrational" Reproduction: Population Politics
and Practices at the Intersections of North and South

Organizer: Milena Marchesi
(University of Massachusetts Amherst)
milena at anthro.umass.edu

Chair: Silvia De Zordo
(Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris)
silvia at de-zordo.it

Over the past couple of decades, feminist anthropologists have
highlighted the centrality of gender and reproduction to the
political projects of the nation-state, have traced how the
heteronormative family often comes to stand as synecdoche for
the "imagined political community" (Anderson 1992) of the nation,
and have come to understand reproductive politics as biopolitics.
Ethnographic research has examined the selective deployment of
reproductive policies, discourses, and practices in political
projects of inclusion/exclusion.

The dangers of "irrational reproduction," usually associated with
marked populations, whether racially, ethnically, or by class more
recently has extended to include white Europeans who are not
reproducing themselves. In the global South, the logics of
international population politics have tended to place the burden
of responsibility for poverty on populations practicing "irrational"
reproduction rather than on the systematic inequities of globalization.
Thus, most family planning practices have been concerned with reducing
the birth rate in the name of social and economic development, of the
wellbeing of children and families and, more recently, of women's  

On the other hand, in some European countries fertility rates below
replacement levels are increasingly described as a threat to social
cohesion and to the survival of European civilization, particularly
as they coincide with significant migration of populations who are
perceived to bring with them high fertility rates. In response to
the perceived threat of low fertility of white Europeans to European
societies a range of state policies in support of families, including
a European Alliance for the Family, have emerged and strong anti-
abortion campaigns are being carried out even where abortion has
been legal for decades. These policies tend to reward white European,
heterosexual families while they neglect or undermine the family-making
and reproductive rights of migrants and gays and lesbians.

This panel aims to examine and compare reproductive politics across
the North-South divide as well as the discourses, practices and
subjectivities they have produced over the past decades at the
level of the social body, the individual body, and the body
politic and to compare the rationalities and consequences of
disciplining the reproduction of populations.

We seek papers based on ethnographic research that attends to
the subjectivities and experiences of groups and populations
whose reproduction is construed as dangerous to the nation-state.
What logics drive reproductive politics in these different context?
How do these projects play out on the ground and what are their
consequences?  What practices, subjectivities, and forms of
resistance manifest around the often-contested politics of
reproduction? What discourses and practices are available
to counteract these projects?

Please submit abstracts (250 words limit) to Milena Marchesi
(milena at anthro.umass.edu) by March 20th.

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