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Reproductive Sociology Research Group

Here you can find an overview of all ReproSoc's Annual Lectures. Please subscribe to the ReproSoc Youtube channel to keep up to date with our future videos.



The Sixth Annual ReproSoc Lecture 2020

The Afterlife of Eugenics: Incarcerated Women and the Fertility Continuum

France Winddance Twine, Professor of Sociology at UC Santa Barbara

In 1909 California became the third state to pass eugenics laws that sanctioned involuntary sterilization of institutionalized individuals deemed ‘unfit to reproduce’. These laws remained on the books until their repeal in 1979. In the summer of 2013, the Center for Investigative Reporting published an article alleging that female inmates in California state prisons had been sterilized without their consent and without procedural accountability. This exposé prompted a state investigation which confirmed that 144 women had been sterilized in California state prisons between 2005 and 2006 and 2012- 2013. This talk explores how mass incarceration, structural racism, gender inequality and neo-liberalism combine to constrain the reproductive agency of incarcerated women and violate their bodily integrity. By situating recent investigations of unnecessary hysterectomies in US prisons within the larger history of eugenics in the United States, this lecture brings Twine’s concept of the ‘fertility continuum’ into dialogue with Dorothy Roberts concept of ‘reproductive liberty’. The outsourcing of prison management  to private corporations has produced a profit-driven and under-regulated carceral structure that is responsible for the delivery of reproductive health care and management of fertility for increasing numbers of women – with especially devastating consequences for impoverished, Black, Native American and Spanish-speaking citizens and immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin America. In turn these violations significantly widen the analysis of what Dana Ain Davis calls ‘Reproductive (In)Justice’.


The Fifth Annual ReproSoc Lecture 2019

Whose Biological Clock? Temporal Inevitability and Assisted Reproduction in Contemporary India

Anindita Majumdar

The relation between time and ageing defines the increasingly influential concept of the biological clock. This conceptualization is especially potent in relation to the reproductive body, and its expected, inevitable decline. Imagined as a ‘curse’, the ticking clock operates both as a metaphor and a tour de force in assisted reproduction in India. In this endeavor, I am interested in seeking out the meanings of age and ageing as they come to be understood within reproduction in India. The focus is particularly on assisted conception, and the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as in-vitro fertilization to engage with the issue of reproductive temporality. What forms of socio-medical imaginings influence this form of temporality? Can time and age be seen beyond the life cycle to understand how particular technologies are used to ‘reconfigure’ it?



The Fourth Annual ReproSoc Lecture 2018

On Separation: Reproduction in Migra-Political Times

Charis Thompson

In this talk, Charis Thompson presented her recent work advocating the addition of a migrapolitical lens to biopolitical and necropolitical ways of understanding the differential valuing of contemporary human life. With reference to her own concept of selective pronatalism, and in conversation with other bio- and necropolitical work on stratified reproduction, reproductive justice, selecting societies, and queer reproductions, Thompson argued for the importance of considering migration as foundational, with birth and death, to a new sociology of reproduction. To illustrate, she did a close reading of the concept of ‘separation’ as a kinship and family term, and argued that its current political salience in regard to migration can help us understand and potentially influence the role that migrapolitics play more generally in kinship and reproduction.


The Third Annual ReproSoc Public Lecture 2017

Security as Reproduction: the Biopolitics of Walls in Israel/Palestine and Beyond

Rosalind Petchesky

It was with great enthusiasm and excitement that ReproSoc welcomed Rosalind Petchesky to Cambridge this autumn to deliver a lecture on a new definition of reproductive politics as securitization. Addressing issues of walls, people, movements and containment as 'reproductive politics' in the broadest sense, Ros characteristically mapped out an ambitious new model of how we might theorise containment as reproductive control, and resistance as a reproductive insurrection. Her lecture was followed by a moving half day workshop with close colleagues Sonia Correa and Marge Berer that re-examined the long histories of reproductive rights activism and writing.



The Second Annual ReproSoc Public Lecture 2016

Cosmopolitan Conceptions in Global Dubai, A Reprolexicon for 21st Century Reprotravel

Marcia Inhorn

In her lecture, Marcia Inhorn, one of the world's leading medical anthropologists, explored the global market in fertility services drawing on her many years of fieldwork in Dubai -- now a major hub of assisted reproductive technology (ART). By exploring the demanding and complex journeys of 220 'reprotravellers' from 50 countries to Dubai's 'cosmopolitan' fertility centres, Inhorn argued we underestimate the costs of these often disappointing fertility odysseys, leading her to call for new forms of activism to address unmet reproductive health needs.



The First Annual ReproSoc Public Lecture 2015

The Egg and the Sperm 2.0

Emily Martin

Our annual public lecture was held in October at the stunning Sainsbury Laboratory. We were delighted to have Emily Martin present her recent work, an update on her 1991 paper "The Egg and the Sperm".