GWSS 3218: Politics of Reproduction

3 Credits

We often think of reproduction solely in terms of physiological events like pregnancy, delivery, or menstruation that occur in (or to) individual female bodies. Additionally, physicians and demographers appear to be the primary professional experts when it comes to managing and quantifying such reproductive events. In contrast, this class grapples with reproduction as a social and biological set of meanings and processes through which racial, gender, sexual, and socio-economic inequalities have been amplified, reconfigured, and contested across time and space. We trace how control over reproduction has been critical to a variety of professional, economic and political endeavors, including the rise and consolidation of disciplines like obstetrics-gynecology and demography; the maintenance of white privilege in colonial spaces and the metropole; post-World War II techno-scientific projects of \"development\" in the global South; and the emergence of the welfare state. The course identifies inequalities along the lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, and nationality in reproductive experiences and outcomes in a wide range of countries, including Cameroon, China, Cuba, Sudan, Soviet Russia, Romania, Zimbabwe, India, Senegal, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Nigeria, and the US. We locate individually embodied reproductive meanings and practices related to pregnancy, delivery, abortion, post-abortion care, contraception, sterilization, surrogacy, and child care in regional, national and global political economies. In other words, we investigate continuities and disruptions in reproductive politics between the individual body and the social body; the past, present and future; and local and global arenas. By exploring how reproduction operates domestically and globally as a mechanism of governance and social and economic stratification, we also consider possibilities for reproductive justice.

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A- Average (3.553)Most Common: A (49%)

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93 students
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