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Reproductive Sociology Research Group


My research centres on intersections between concerns about the environment, reproduction and kinship, from a multispecies perspective. I am particularly concerned with the ways in which ideas of nature and naturalness are implicated in politics and ethics, as well as the ways in which intersecting inequalities structure parenting and reproduction. I am an anthropologist by training and draw on both anthropological and sociological concepts and theories in my work, including scholarship in medical anthropology, feminist science studies, intersectional feminism, queer theory, food studies, political ecology and kinship studies.

I currently coordinate the (In)Fertile Environments work package of the Wellcome Trust project, Changing (In)Fertilities. As part of this, I am conducting ethnographic research in London on seed-saving and activism around plant seeds. I am also working on a collaborative project with climate activists who are using public discussions about reproductive decision-making to ‘sound the alarm’ about the existential threats of climate change.

My first monograph, Making a Good Life, was published in 2016 by Princeton University Press. It looks at how middle-class people living in Scotland make ethical judgements about reproduction and assisted reproductive technologies. In the book, I trace the connections between how people think about the ethics of reproduction and ethics in their everyday lives, in a context of anxieties about environmental crisis and destruction of the natural world, intense public scrutiny of parenting and reproduction and the rise of biotechnology. 

As well as my particular focus on intersections between reproductive and environmental concerns, I have retained an interest in reproductive technologies throughout my career. When I first joined ReproSoc, I carried out archival research on representations of IVF in the British media, focusing particularly on newspapers and TV documentaries covering the birth of the first 'test-tube baby', Louise Brown. I am currently helping lead a project that argues for a more integrated approach to studies of reproductive technologies. Influenced by the reproductive justice framework, this project calls for a critical consideration of the field of reproductive studies. It reminds us of the imperative of taking account of the historical, social, political, economic and ethical contexts in which these technologies are used, as well as the histories of and interactions between different technologies across users’ life courses. This work will be presented in an edited collection called Integrating Reproductive Technologies, which will be published by Emerald Books in 2021-22. 

I chair an interdisciplinary reading group on reproduction, based in London. Please get in touch with me if you would be interested in joining. I edit the What's Out There reviews strand in Reproductive BioMedicine and Society Online and am keen to hear ideas for new reviews. I am also a member of CEP (Consortium of Environmental Philosophers), a global group of interdisciplinary scholars working on environmental issues, who seek to make environmental philosophy more accessible to the broader public.


Key publications: 

Dow, Katharine and Janelle Lamoreaux. 2020. ‘Situated Kinmaking and the Population “Problem”’, Environmental Humanities 12(2): 475-491.

Dow, Katharine. 2019. ‘Looking into the Test-Tube: The Birth of IVF on British Television’, Medical History 63 (2): 189-208.

Dow, Katharine. 2018. '"Now She's Just an Ordinary Baby": The Birth of IVF in the British Press'. Sociology. Published Online First 22nd February 2018.

Dow, Katharine and Victoria Boydell (eds.). 2018. Nature and Ethics Across Geographical, Rhetorical and Human Borders. London: Routledge.

Dow, Katharine. 2017. ‘“The Men who Made the Breakthrough”: How the British press represented Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards in 1978’. Reproductive Biomedicine and Society Online 4: 59-67.

Dow, Katharine. 2016. ‘What Gets Left Behind for Future Generations? Reproduction and the Environment in Spey Bay, Scotland’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 22(3): 653-669.

Dow, Katharine. 2016. Making a Good Life: An Ethnography of Nature, Ethics and Reproduction. Princeton University Press. 

Dow, Katharine. 2016. ‘Seeing with Dolphins: Reflections on the Salience of Cetaceans’. In Thinking about Animals in the Age of the Anthropocene: Human-animal relations in the era of humankind, eds. Morten Tønnessen, Silver Rattasepp and Kristin Armstrong Oma. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books

Dow, Katharine. 2015. 'A Nine-Month Head-Start': The Maternal Bond and Surrogacy. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology.

Former Senior Research Associate
Former Deputy Director, ReproSoc
Dr. Katie  Dow

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01223 332459
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