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ReproSoc

Reproductive Sociology Research Group

Studying at Cambridge

 

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Genome Editing: An Ethical Review Launch

Following the publication of their interim report on the titled topic at the end of September, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics launched their review on Thursday 6th October 2016 at the Royal Geographical Society in London. I was very fortunate to be able to attend this fascinating launch and witness the questions, discussions and forthcoming plans the working group had/have to deliberate.

Genome Editing: An Ethical Review Launch - Read More…

Human Earrings

As the public and scientists debate whether to extend the 14-day rule on embryo research, Katie Dow is reminded of a strange legal case from 1989 involving the use of human foetuses in artwork.

Human Earrings - Read More…

What a Show!

On the 5th and 6th of November the Fertility Show took place in London. This event hosted “over 100 exhibitors, top names in fertility and up to 60 seminars over the 2 days making it the biggest fertility event in the world.” ReproSoc was there!

What a Show! - Read More…

Revisiting the Concept of Reproductive Rights

The recent developments in world politics provide a good opportunity to re-examine ideas about reproductive rights; what is embedded in these rights? How they have changed over time? And what are the limitations of reproductive freedom?

Revisiting the Concept of Reproductive Rights - Read More…

Seasonal Reflections on (Reproductive) Politics in Poland

Going home for Christmas, in my case, means traveling from England to Poland. Apart from catching up with family and friends, this time of the year is also about catching up on Polish politics. Among the myriad political changes that Poland has seen in 2016 is a momentous challenge to women’s reproductive rights – significant in itself but also revealing as part of a broader political transformation whose crisis we are witnessing as the eventful year is coming to an end.

Seasonal Reflections on (Reproductive) Politics in Poland - Read More…

Sexism Trumps Racism? Nope

In the aftermath of the US presidential election result, is it helpful to see Donald Trump’s victory as a triumph of sexism over racism?

Sexism Trumps Racism? Nope - Read More…

Biological Reasoning: why biological translation is a sociological art

Earlier this year in January, Katie Dow and I went in search of the missing early Warnock files that we had never found either in the Burnley, Lancashire holdings of the Department of Health Repository, or in the National Archives at Kew. Although it was a wonderful surprise to discover a complete set of freshly declassified files of this famous Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology waiting for us on our arrival, the visit ended with one major disappointment, which was that the crucial paper I have been looking for since 2010 was not in any of the places it should have been, and is apparently not in the new files.

Biological Reasoning: why biological translation is a sociological art - Read More…

Yerma and the Tyranny of Choice

In Simon Stone’s adaptation of Lorca’s Yerma, the main character is suffering from the grief of not having a longed-for child; her sadness is an ancient, visceral one. IVF is, in this updated narrative, simply another available technology – something to try rather than the answer to the problem.

Yerma and the Tyranny of Choice - Read More…

It’s artificial, naturally! Shielding the breast in an era of climate change

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is upon us once again, celebrated annually from 1st -7th August. This is a week during which event founder and organizer, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, hopes to mobilize institutions and individuals around the world to promote feeding babies from the breast. Each year WBW has a theme. Last year’s theme was Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make it Work! This year’s theme is Breastfeeding: a key to sustainable development and it is being explored in five different ways, one of which focuses on the relationship between breastfeeding and the environment

It’s artificial, naturally! Shielding the breast in an era of climate change - Read More…

The Future… After Brexit

« What is the EU? », was the second question that was typed on Google from the UK… just after Brexit was announced. This is not a joke. It seems that a lot of people did not know what they were saying “Leave” or “Remain” to, when they took the time to go to the poll and vote. This is the cruel reality that the UK democracy is facing. What kind of failure does it express?

The Future… After Brexit - Read More…

Reading Donna Haraway

I am reading Donna Haraway’s new book for an interview we will do together for Theory, Culture and Society and it is always remarkable to rediscover in her work both the enduring prescience of her analytic work and the sheer pleasure of reading her exuberant style. As anyone who has heard her speak will know, Haraway is an exhilarating speaker who reliably delivers a unique kind of oratory that is based on notes and meticulous preparation, but is performed with great spontaneity and creativity.

Reading Donna Haraway - Read More…

Changing Fertility: Social, Demographic and Ethical Consequences of Assisted Conception Technologies

The Changing Fertility Forum in Cambridge has laid the groundwork for an exploration of new reproductive patterns amid the growing use of assisted reproductive technologies.

Changing Fertility: Social, Demographic and Ethical Consequences of Assisted Conception Technologies - Read More…

Unfolding Organogenesis

I participated in Unfolding Organogenesis - an interactive drop-in exhibition on display at the Edinburgh International Science Festival earlier this spring - after being involved in its conceptualisation and development together with EuroStemCell. During my ethnographic fieldwork with stem cell communicators and scientists in Scotland, I have spent much time observing how scientific ideas are communicated in speech. Yet, hours and hours of folding 'beating hearts' with Edinburgh festival visitors reminded me of the importance of scientists’ hands when they are growing cells.

Unfolding Organogenesis - Read More…

Changing Global Fertilities: a third demographic transition?

More than 30 years of ethnographic research on IVF has demonstrated two contrasting worldwide trends. One is the enormous variation in the governance and regulation of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), including striking divergences between otherwise similar adjacent countries, such as Norway and Sweden, or Canada and the USA...

Changing Global Fertilities: a third demographic transition? - Read More…

Child in time: Should (in)fertility be discussed in schools?

The proposal to include fertility education in the school curriculum has raised major controversy. While its supporters claim it would empower people to make informed choices, others are concerned it would add unnecessary pressure on young adults and on women in particular.

Child in time: Should (in)fertility be discussed in schools? - Read More…

Plan B

On screen, men are usually depicted thinking about fatherhood when their partner announces she’s pregnant, their child is kidnapped or they’re going through a divorce. So, there is something notable about the pilot episode of Netflix show Master of None, which explores one 30-year-old man’s decision about whether he’d like to become a parent one day.

Plan B - Read More…

Timeless: The Egg Freezing Pop-up Shop

On a Monday night, through the restless commuter crowds of London’s Old Street underground station, I catch my first glimpse of Timeless: a new pop up shop devoted entirely to stimulating debate on egg freezing.

Timeless: The Egg Freezing Pop-up Shop - Read More…

Gender as a Means of Reproduction

Writing the Editor's Introduction for Marilyn Strathern's new book was difficult, but it gave me some new ideas about gender as a means of reproduction. Her 1973 book on gender would have been an instant feminist classic had it been published, but the series it was written for folded, and so its only coming into print 40 years later. Even now the account of gender it gives is highly original -- in part because of how it argues gender recapitulates relationality. From this point of view we can see that Marilyn Strathern has always been concerned with the means of reproduction -- in all its varied forms.

Gender as a Means of Reproduction - Read More…

The Most Well-Paid Job in the World?

The blog depicts the author’s personal experience of receiving leaflets about underground egg trade when she was an undergraduate in China. It also analyzes the monetary value assignment rules in gamete black market.

The Most Well-Paid Job in the World? - Read More…

Fending off the stork: Why do some people delay childbearing until it is (almost) too late?

As sexuality is increasingly disconnected from parenthood, people may spend most of their reproductive years without giving too much thought about their fertility.

Fending off the stork: Why do some people delay childbearing until it is (almost) too late? - Read More…

The Danish Girl – The Beauty of Be(com)ing a Woman

The Danish girl is loosely inspired by Lili Elbe’s autobiography ‘Man into Woman’. While reinforcing gender stereotypes, the film does well in underlining that gender is a performance that is studied and acted.

The Danish Girl – The Beauty of Be(com)ing a Woman - Read More…

A New Year Poem for ReproSoc 2016

First bred in sociology, ReproSoc began as three. No sheep were there, It's only fair, To mention,retrospectively.

A New Year Poem for ReproSoc 2016 - Read More…

Making Captive Orcas Extinct

I saw orcas in a marine park in British Columbia when I was a child. My memories of it now are impressionistic – the bright blue of the chlorinated pools, the glossy black and white markings of the orcas, the oohs and aahs of the crowd not dissimilar to those you hear at a fireworks show.

Making Captive Orcas Extinct - Read More…

Animals in the Anthropocene

In September, I participated in a small interdisciplinary conference at the University of Stavanger. The conference theme was ‘Animals in the Anthropocene’ and the panels considered the many different ways in which humans interact with other animals in contemporary life, set against the backdrop of climate change and increasing anthropogenic effects on the environment.

Animals in the Anthropocene - Read More…

Between Policy and Practice: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Assisted Reproductive Technologies and Equitable Access to Health Care

In July 2015, the Brocher Foundation, set on the banks of Lake Leman in the idyllic countryside outside Geneva, became host to an international conference titled “Between Policy and Practice: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Assisted Reproductive Technologies and Equitable Access to Health Care”.

Between Policy and Practice: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Assisted Reproductive Technologies and Equitable Access to Health Care - Read More…

(in)Fertile Citizen – International Conference in Lesbos, Greece

During the month of May, the beautiful Aegean island of Lesbos became the inimitable location of a large conference on the Anthropological and Legal Challenges of Assisted Reproduction Technologies. Social science researchers from all over Europe, including UK, Greece, Poland, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Italy, and Switzerland, committed to three days of in-depth discussions about the (in)fertile citizens of Europe.

(in)Fertile Citizen – International Conference in Lesbos, Greece - Read More…

China Repro Tech

In March of 2015, Reprosoc held a small workshop on the theme of “China Repro Tech”. During this two-day event, workshop participants discussed pre-circulated chapters of forthcoming manuscripts by Dr. Ayo Wahlberg, a Lecturer at the University of Copenhagen’s Institute of Anthropology and Dr. Janelle Lamoreaux, a Research Associate in ReproSoc. Ayo’s book, currently titled Good Quality, is an exploration of the formation and routinization of sperm freezing in China.

China Repro Tech - Read More…

IVF Histories and Cultures Project Conference 2

In December, we held the second of three conferences linked with the IVF Histories and Cultures Project, co-organised by Sarah Franklin, Martin Johnson and Nick Hopwood. This conference focused on the early years of IVF in Oldham, Lancashire. We were delighted to welcome some of the clinical staff who worked alongside Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards at the time as well as members of Robert Edwards’ family.

IVF Histories and Cultures Project Conference 2 - Read More…

Conference Report: “Con/Tested: Sperm, Sterility, and Masculinity”

On September 11th and 12th, Liberty Barnes and Christina Benninghaus organized and hosted a conference, entitled “Con/Tested: Sperm, Sterility, and Masculinity,” dedicated to the historical and social study of male sterility and infertility. Thirty scholars participated in the event, including historians, sociologists, social psychologists, and anthropologists.

Conference Report: “Con/Tested: Sperm, Sterility, and Masculinity” - Read More…

The intersection of biology and society: Working with the Arizona State University Embryo Project

This March and April I have taken some time away from Cambridge and I headed southwest to sunny Arizona where I am working at Arizona State University as a visiting scholar and fellow of the Embryo Project. The Embryo Project, directed by Jane Maienschein and Manfred Laubichler, brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines who look at the history, science and various issues surrounding the growing fields of embryology, development and reproductive medicine.

The intersection of biology and society: Working with the Arizona State University Embryo Project - Read More…

Food under the Microscope: Test-Tube Burgers and Mouse Liver Chocolates

On Saturday, I attended The Other Dinner at the Waag Society in Amsterdam. The Waag is the oldest building in the city that isn’t a church, as its turrets and winding staircases attest. Being so old, it has also seen many uses, from weigh station (hence the name) to the setting for Rembrandt’s painting, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicholaes Tulp to, most recently, a space for researchers, designers and artists interested in exploring the intersections of science, art and technology.

Food under the Microscope: Test-Tube Burgers and Mouse Liver Chocolates - Read More…

Revisiting the Warnock Committee

When I became a research associate with ReproSoc in October, it felt like embarking on a new and exciting journey. From my previous experience working with Sarah Franklin, I expected that this intellectual and professional journey would get me thinking not only about the important effects that IVF and other reproductive technologies have had, and are continuing to have, on the way we think about life itself, but also to see new, and probably strange, connections in the world around me.

Revisiting the Warnock Committee - Read More…

The Overlapping Histories of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and Artificial Insemination by Donor (AID)

I have recently visited the Mortimer Market Centre, a sexual health clinic in London, where I gave a talk about the concurrent histories of HIV and sperm donation. In different ways and under contrasting circumstances, both HIV/AIDS and assisted reproduction have played a substantial role in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people whose History Month we are celebrating this month. But the two histories have rarely been told together - despite the fact that they are intimately connected.

The Overlapping Histories of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and Artificial Insemination by Donor (AID) - Read More…

The Reproductive Sociology Research Group supports research and teaching on the social and cultural implications of new reproductive technologies. ReproSoc is part of an expanding concentration of Reproductive Studies at Cambridge, is led by Professor Sarah Franklin and has funding from the Wellcome Trust, British Academy, ESRC, ERC, and Office of the Vice Chanccelloer, as well as several other funding bodies.

Video Podcast

Our latest video podcast is our second annual public lecture, Cosmopolitan Conceptions in Global Dubai by Marcia Inhorn.