Abstracts

Author: Dr T Moyana (University of Pretoria)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
The role of ‘alternative’ medicine use in shaping reproductive choices and practices among pregnant women in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe
Presenter
Dr T Moyana (University of Pretoria)
Authors
Dr T Moyana (University of Pretoria) - Primary Author
The widespread concurrent use of ‘alternative’ and ‘conventional’ medicine in antenatal care, even in settings like Zimbabwe, reflects a complex interplay of cultural norms, personal choice, access to care, and the dynamic politicization of medical knowledge systems. The binaries of ‘alternative’ and ‘conventional’ also highlight the biomedical hegemony that has historically shaped reproductive discourse, often relegating non-biomedical frameworks as so-called ‘non-conventional’ or ‘unorthodox’. It is in this context of complexities that this paper examines how the use of ‘alternative’ medicine influences pregnant women’s decision-making and practices related to their pregnancies. Employing a feminist phenomenological approach, it examines power interplays and dominant discourses shaping the use of ‘alternative’ medicine in antenatal care. Drawing from data collected from 65 participants through questionnaires and in-depth interviews with a core group of 15, the paper elucidates how the use of ‘alternative’ medicine empowers women to actively engage in their reproductive decisions. It argues that pregnant women’s voluntary, and sometimes covert, use of ‘alternative’ medicine, often to evade reprimands from healthcare providers within the biomedical hegemony, demonstrates their ‘constrained’ agency and ownership over their reproductive health. Furthermore, it posits that such utilization of alternative medicine represents a form of resistance against biomedical and conventional reproductive norms, challenging the traditional medicalization of women’s bodies within reproductive studies.

Keywords- alternative medicine, biomedical hegemony, agency , antenatal care , reproduction



Author: Prof Radhika Rao (University of California College of Law San Francisco)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
America’s Abortion Theocracy
Presenter
Prof Radhika Rao (University of California College of Law San Francisco)
Authors
Prof Radhika Rao (University of California College of Law San Francisco) - Primary Author
Although the United States purports to be a secular nation committed to the value of religious pluralism, recent developments suggest that it is fast becoming a theocracy, which enshrines the contested views of a particular sect of Christianity into law. This paper sketches out the positions of the major world religions on the difficult questions of when life begins and the morality of abortion, and it also examines the attitudes of various religious groups within the US on these questions. It then maps the US approach to abortion embodied in the recent Dobbs decision and the trigger laws taking effect across the states, which prohibit abortion – with almost no exceptions – at conception, first signs of cardiac activity (6 weeks), emergence of gender/facial features (15 weeks), and quickening (20 weeks). When the religious views are juxtaposed against the map of abortion and personhood laws, it becomes clear that many states have enacted laws that are out of step with the attitudes of a majority; instead, these laws track the views of a powerful religious minority (white Evangelical Christians), who are imposing their religious beliefs upon the majority, aided and abetted by a religiously-tilted Supreme Court. Lawsuits filed by Jewish rabbis and other religious leaders challenging restrictive abortion laws present the pressing question: to what extent can a secular state impose its religious views of when life begins upon dissenters, including those whose religion provides a very different answer to these questions?
Author: Ms J. de Klerk (Leiden University College)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Being with mum’: Documenting care-work in a home visitor programme to promote infant attachment security in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg, South Africa
Presenter
Ms J. de Klerk (Leiden University College)
Authors
Ms J. de Klerk (Leiden University College) - Primary Author
Mrs N. Dawson (Ububele Educational and Psychotherapy Trust)
This paper analyses a care model as part of an intervention for mothers of newborns in Alexandra Township South Africa. The intervention aims to stimulate infant attachment and caregiver responsiveness of between newborn infants and caregivers (mainly mothers) living in chronic stressful conditions. The intervention is implemented by lay mental health counselors, called Early Childhood Community Practitioners (ECCP). ECCP are women/mothers from Alexandra and are trained and salaried parastatal workers employed by Ububele Educational and Psychotherapy Trust, a locally based NGO. While rooted in western development psychological models of attachment theory and the broader WHO framework of the first 1000 days of life, Ububele draws from the concept of Umdlezane, a time in which mothers and their babies are supported and protected by their family. Ububele continuously reflects on and adapts the intervention to the specific setting of Alexandra. Within this broader framework this paper analyses 84 sets of 12 home-visit reports written by the ECCP between 2012 and 20216 as secondary ethnographic data. Focusing on the practice and act of documenting, this paper describes a central technique in this care-work: being with. In doing so it highlights practices of invisible care work that are part of the intervention. Contrary to a mode of doing that often deemed central in interventions, this paper argues that a focus on doing obscures the many subtle acts of being with. This relational work is intangible but forms the cornerstone of the home-visiting programme, and sheds light on how an intervention becomes in practice.
Author: Ms GS Shrivastava (Uppsala University)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Navigating Self-Managed Abortions: Intersections of Reproductive Autonomy, Knowledge, and Decolonial Praxis
Presenter
Ms GS Shrivastava (Uppsala University)
Authors
Ms GS Shrivastava (Uppsala University) - Primary Author
Self-managed abortions (SMAs) occur when individuals choose to handle their abortions outside of medical settings, promoting reproductive autonomy and challenging systemic injustices (Sunderland et al., 2020). Access to abortion differs significantly in the Global South, necessitating a nuanced understanding beyond singular causal explanations prevalent in the Global North. Abortion discourse in the Global North, which is primarily driven by the logic of choice and reproduction is often not adequate in understanding the lived experiences and the reproductive decision making of women in the Global South Thus SMA’s in the Global South call for greater public health accountability and community-centered approaches which address reproductive health and justice.
My paper explores how the knowledge gap between the Global North and Global South regarding self-managed abortions, particularly medical abortion with pills, can be bridged to foster a more inclusive feminist understanding. By examining scholarly research on the subject and intersectional discourses on reproductive autonomy and decolonial praxis, it highlights the transformative potential of SMAs in challenging knowledge hierarchies that surround abortion. Through emphasizing grassroots perspectives and care models, the paper advocates for centering the lived experiences and knowledge systems of marginalized communities in the Global South, that includes young women, pregnant persons from diverse gender identities and indigenous communities. This approach can inform policies grounded in reproductive justice principles, bridging the gap between Global North and Global South perspectives on self-managed abortions.
Author: Mr T Siziba (University of Johannesburg)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Understanding the Lived Experiences of Undisclosed and Misattributed Paternity amid “Imvelaphi”: Recentering Afrocentric Knowledges of Reproduction.
Presenter
Mr T Siziba (University of Johannesburg)
Authors
Mr T Siziba (University of Johannesburg) - Primary Author
Studies of fatherhood have often focused on psychosocial issues of paternal absence and mystery. Life in the southern African region and overall Global South prove dynamic and complex given newly emerging and underexplored challenges of fatherhood. These include an overlapping phenomenon of both paternal nondisclosure and misattribution as one tends to inform the other. While the former describes unrevealed paternal identities of individuals yet suspiciously known by maternal parent’s relatives and other community members. The latter refers to misappropriation of individual’s paternal identity to clans other than that of their true biological fathers. Contextualizing this paternal dilemma of both nondisclosure and misattribution on the Nguni notion known as Imvelaphi, a term that denotes to sense of belonging along ancestral paternal lines. The paper analyses how practices of life-making and life-sustaining through Eurocentric-informed biomedical and educational interventions are reconsidered, reshaped, and challenged. In so doing, it unearths Afrocentric theories and realities of health and well-being, thereby uncovering traditional “know-how”, religion and spirituality pertaining to fatherhood, sexual reproduction, and family dynamics. Additionally, the paper argues that Eurocentric and Western epistemologies of biomedicine and educational attainment in accounting for overall health and well-being are incomplete in the southern African region. Particularly when pondering on indigenous knowledge system such as Imvelaphi in the context of the paternal dilemmas central to the paper.

Key words: “Imvelaphi”; Ancestorhood; Fatherhood; Undisclosed and Misattributed Fatherhood

NB: The paper addresses this question - "How are ‘new’ and ‘old’ knowledges of reproduction (re)shaping practices of life-making and life-sustaining?"
Author: Dr Alison Swartz (St Georges University of London)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
In her own words: a qualitative systematic review of adolescent girls’ and young women’s experience of their pregnancies in southern Africa
Presenter
Dr Alison Swartz (St Georges University of London)
Authors
Dr Alison Swartz (St Georges University of London) - Primary Author
In her own words: a qualitative systematic review of adolescent girls’ and young women’s experience of their pregnancies in southern Africa

Alison Swartz, Jennifer Pellowski, Shehani Perera, Myrna van Pinxteren, Elizabeth Waisel, Natasha Kannemeyer and Abigail Harrison

Introduction: Sub-Saharan Africa has high rates of pregnancies in adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) that are associated with risks to physical, social and economic well-being. Unintended and early pregnancy has been recognised as a critical public health problem that governments, politicians, healthcare workers and academics have sought to address. AGYW experiences, narratives and perspectives are underrepresented in the political and public health discourse on early fertility, as are their motivations and decision-making processes surrounding their pregnancies, relationships and provision of care.

Methods: We conducted a qualitative systematic review of studies that met the following eligibility criteria: participants 13-24 years from southern Africa, used qualitative research methods, written in English in peer-reviewed available in the one of the following databases: PubMed, Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), Anthrosource, ANTHRO Plus, CINAHL and PSYCInfo. Eligible studies were screened by two reviewers and initially extracted for basic information, quality, using a modified Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) Checklist, and initial themes using a thematic framework developed by the review team.

Results: Our review findings revealed three main themes. Theme one focused on individual experiences of pregnancy, including fertility fears and desires and negotiations related to pregnancy and schooling. Theme two explored pregnancy prevention and fertility management, including contraceptive choices, experiences or understandings of termination and interactions with healthcare workers and the broader health system. Theme three focused on pregnancies in social context, in relation to parents and older community members, including intergenerational communication about sex and sexuality, relationships with partners, relationships with peers, as well as the broader socioeconomic and political context.

Discussion and Conclusions: AGYWs often experienced fertility as emotionally, financially and socially challenging, but many also expressed their motivations for having a child. The burden of preventing pregnancy and caring for children fell almost entirely on AYGWs and female kin, with little support from boys and young men. AGYW with children need better and more flexible support, including in their efforts to return to education. Sex education should tackle fears of side effects and myths about contraception that may decrease uptake. AGYWs fertility desires and social pressure to conceive should also be more openly acknowledged. This review underscores the need to challenge the prevailing public health discourse that problematises early fertility and instead points to the value in engaging directly with AGYWs views, experiences and perspectives that offer nuance to our understanding.
Author: Dr P Mishra (Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Risky Reprofutures: Indian Femtech Users Navigating Intimate Surveillance, Data Privacy and Data Colonialism
Presenter
Dr P Mishra (Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi)
Authors
Dr P Mishra (Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi) - Primary Author
This paper critically examines the new and rapidly expanding market of femtech interventions in India for managing reproductive health. Femtech solutions use algorithmic, bio-sensing, self-tracking and predictive tools for managing health with a key focus on menstruation, reproduction, fertility, pregnancy and menopause. Existing studies on femtech are heavily skewed in favour of WIERD demographics- western, industrial, educated, rich and democratic. There is a paucity of research on femtech proliferation and adoption in global south contexts, India being one such country. Femtech is often hailed as a unique technological intervention into women’s reproductive health, enabling greater control over their reproductive processes. However this paper disrupts this powerful, largely celebratory narrative of femtech to reveal how femtech fuels extractive data regimes and has risky consequences for populations in the global south. It shows that even as India is undergoing a neoliberal shift towards the idea of 'healthism' where health and well-being are being increasingly being interpreted as personal projects, these are not without concerns. Ethnographic insights and femtech industry stakeholder interviews (users, coders, developers, entrepreneurs, tech policy experts, lawyers) reveal that given the vaccum of personal data protection laws in India and robust data privacy regulations, not only homegrown femtech companies but global north-based femtech companies are taking advantage of legal grey areas in India creating newer modes of intimate reproductive surveillance for Indian femtech users and setting up newer streams of data colonialism. Even as the challenge is structured and rooted in the wider political economy of digital health interventions in India, within this context the Indian user is found to be navigating the ‘privacy paradox’ (Shklovski et al. 2014) at a more individual level where their intentions and behaviours around information disclosure often radically differ and they are forced to leverage complex and sometime contradictory datafication practices to navigate the challenge of intimate surveillance.
Author: Ms S Manuel (Kaleidoscopio)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Re-thinking meanings and uses of pregnancy
Presenter
Ms S Manuel (Kaleidoscopio)
Authors
Ms S Manuel (Kaleidoscopio) - Primary Author
This paper examines the practice of becoming pregnant without the intention to procreate. The analysis focuses on two case studies: one in urban and peri-urban Maputo and the other in rural Zambézia, in Mozambique. In the first case study, adolescent girls and young women intentionally become pregnant with the intention to abort to confirm if they are able to procreate and, therefore, in the future, become respectable women in a context where motherhood grants adult females the woman status. In the second case, adolescent girls become pregnant and keep it for the first trimester. As their bodies begin to change and become fuller, they abort. Pregnancy here is used as a tool to get fuller bodies that are considered more attractive, thus, guaranteeing that such girls have access to the dating market as well as to well-off partners in relationships where sex is exchanged for goods and money in impoverished rural Zambézia. The ethnographic material emerges from academic research in Maputo and social consultancy research in Zambézia.

The study contributes to questioning discourses and perceptions that frame reproduction in Africa as a natural given of abundance, pathology, mortality and irresponsibility. I locate my discussion under the critical lenses on the impact of the hypervisibility of the Third World Girl and conceiving the girl in the Global South as being in crisis and requiring humanitarian and development interventions (Shenila Khoja-Moolji 2020). On the contrary, adolescent girls and young women are framed in my analysis as self-aware subjects making rational choices within the social context where they navigate. Additionally, through grounded ethnographic research, I contribute to shrinking the gap between knowledge produced and ordinary lived realities in Africa.
Author: Dr B.C. de Kok (University of Amsterdam)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Re-worlding reproduction: Whose and what knowledge counts? An ethnographic study of women with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in Ghana
Presenter
Dr B.C. de Kok (University of Amsterdam)
Authors
Dr B.C. de Kok (University of Amsterdam) - Primary Author
Re-worlding reproduction: Whose and what knowledge counts? An ethnographic study of care for women with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in Ghana

Bregje de Kok, Sylvia Gyan, Lucy Yevoo, Koiwah Koi-Larbi Ofosuapea, Hannah Brown Amoakoh, Joyce Browne, Daniel Arhinful.

This abstract concerns the following question:
1.Reproductive knowledges: How are ‘new’ and ‘old’ knowledges of reproduction (re)shaping practices of life-making and life-sustaining? How do we challenge the colonial conceptual apparatus toward more just reproductive futures?

Attempts to improve maternal health in sub-Saharan Africa increasingly rely on biomedical ways of knowing and managing birth, evidenced for instance by shifts away from training TBAs to promoting facility births and skilled birth attendance. Whilst this medicalization of birth has resulted in important health gains and deaths averted, religious beliefs and socio-cultural norms and values inform pregnant women’s health seeking behaviour, alongside biomedical knowledge. In clinical encounters, these different forms of knowledge converge, possibly clash, and may become barriers to uptake of recommended treatment. Through an ethnographic study of clinical encounters between health professionals and women with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in Ghana, we explore how different forms of knowledge come together, what knowledge gets acknowledged or subjugated, and with what consequences. We discuss how cultural norms and values, religious ideas, and pregnant women’s own embodied knowledge could lead them to resist proposed treatment (e.g. early delivery through c-section). Biomedical knowledge was not the kind of authoritative knowledge as critical, often American, anthropologists have described. Biomedical practitioners had to mobilize various strategies to get women to accept ‘their’ information and proposed course of action. Respectful negotiation between different knowledge sources seems important for fostering productive health worker-client relationships and increasing uptake of interventions. Whilst maternity care is grounded in a predominantly Northern, biomedical, and secular frame, we conclude that ignoring women’s own cultural and religious knowledge is a form of epistemic and reproductive injustice and denies their right to respectful maternity care.
Author: Dr A Griner (Princeton University)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Beyond the brain hemispheres: re-worlding reproduction with philosophies from the Global South
Presenter
Dr A Griner (Princeton University)
Authors
Dr A Griner (Princeton University) - Primary Author
Contemporary neuroscience and neuroethical debates take “love” to be a subset of neurochemical processes. Operating within and from the brain, such processes would trigger and orchestrate affects, sexuality, desire and reproduction. Reiterating an evolutionary and sexually-binary framework, neuroscientific love ultimately serves the biosocial reproduction of nuclear families and of romantic, therapeutic and self-caring rituals that favor the marketed consumption of specific ideas, goods and pharmaceuticals.
Scholarship stemming from Science and Technology Studies (STS) and from queer critical theory has pointed to the heterosexual, monogamous, nuclear-family centered normativity of neuroscientific “love”. Some within those academic fields have pointed to alternative scientific theories and findings – as well as to practices and modes of living – that could offer more comprehensive approaches to love and reproduction. My paper works on connecting questions posed by STS and queer critical theory to approaches to “love” stemming from literature produced in the Global South, especially ones incorporating African and Brazilian indigenous philosophies. I plan to initiate such exercise by bringing STS literature on love and kinship closer to the work of Guarani (Brazilian) scholar Geni Núñez (especially but not exclusively her book Descolonizando Afetos, or “decolonizing affects”), and that of Burkinabé intellectual (perhaps healer) Sobonfu Somé. These two names are only a starting point for the investigation I hope to engage and reflect with, and hopefully will lead to other names and discussions stemming from the Global South to further explore. While Núñez’s scholarship sheds light on partnerships that are non-monogamic and non-romantic, giving visibility to affective and kinship worlds that expand beyond the idea of a nuclear family and of human relations, Somé’s focus is on intimacy’s construction based on Dangara tradition.
By initiating the conversation described above, I hope to stretch the boundaries of “‘old’ knowledges of reproduction” beyond biology, and to help (re)shape “practices of life-making and life-sustaining” by bringing ‘new’ perspectives into the worlds of love-, desire- and affection-making. Besides engaging with non-academically conventional traditions of thought, that is, the philosophies Núñez and Somé bring to the fore, I am also interested in their concrete experience of laboring to reproduce their modes of living, desiring and relating in (postcolonial?) earth- and nation-bound contexts that are plural and many times deeply hostile to non-mainstream societies – and how this informs Núñez’s and Somé’s own writing.

Not only have brain studies redefined “love”, how it is seen and expected to be practiced, but “love” – and how it is made sense of in neurochemical terms – has also reaffirmed current understandings and organizing of the brain. This paper wants to explore other sources, natures and imaginaries of love, and thus, to expand the politics (and if possible) other limits of both reproduction and the brain.
Author: Dr N M Daniels (University of Cape Town)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Obstetric demise or dilemma? Medico-legal litigation, affective agencies, and the unacknowledged demise of independent midwifery
Presenter
Dr N M Daniels (University of Cape Town)
Authors
Dr N M Daniels (University of Cape Town) - Primary Author
Feminist research is centred on sites of conflict and social change, where contestation is part of the substantive problem under investigation. Data is drawn from a feminist, multi-site ethnography that sought to understand the relationship between women, obstetricians and birthing practices in the infrequently studied private maternity sector, in Cape Town, South Africa. Through the lens of relational power, symbolic amplification and vilification are understood to maintain asymmetrical relationships of domination and subordination. I detail the media representations of 2020 as the year private obstetricians would be "out of business" while hiding the demise of independent midwifery and birthing people’s right to choice of birth provider. I argue, through analysis of ethnographic snapshots, theatrical drama and reflexive inserts that obstetric dilemmas co-produced affective agencies that accelerated loss of knowledge of ‘normal’ vaginal deliveries. In generating societal compassion for an obstetric demise, obstetricians were presented in the media as victims of merciless lawyers, vulnerable to outrageous increases in insurance premiums. Yet little attention was paid to a corresponding vilification of independent midwifery and erosion of birthing people’s access to midwifery care and alternative modes of birth. Through analysis of medico-legal litigation as a drama, affective obstetric agencies are illustrated as active forces shaping how pregnancy, childbirth and the unborn are scripted, known and practiced. The concerns raised or usurped, and the consequences arising from this confluence of forces that materialises through litigation allows us to think through what is at stake.

Author: Dr G Newton (UQ)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Justice through lived expertise: How donor-conceived adults challenge knowledge hierarchies in institutional contexts
Presenter
Dr G Newton (UQ)
Authors
Dr G Newton (UQ) - Primary Author
Across the humanities and social sciences, scholars have long been interested in how knowledge is construed, contested and legitimised in institutional contexts, such as medical encounters and law/policy reform contexts. Recent years have seen shifts in traditional power structures in these settings as in clinicians are expected to provide patient-centred care, and policy-makers are expected to listen to people with lived experience. Yet limited research has considered how authority and expertise are negotiated in the field of donor conception. While many jurisdictions worldwide still do not have legislation governing donor conception, in recent years there have been a number of legislative reviews and reform processes, in which decision-makers have sought to elicit information to establish the extent of the practice and its impacts on stakeholders such as donor-conceived people. Through linguistic analysis of a public hearing of the 2010 Senate Committee Inquiry into Donor Conception in Australia, this article examines how donor-conceived adult witnesses position themselves, negotiating authority and community. Findings reveal four cumulative discursive patterns: donor-conceived witnesses positioned their lived experience as non-negotiable, cast doubt on fertility practitioners' expertise, layered opinions upon experience and employed recognised knowledges to bolster authority. This article introduces the concept of ‘lived expertise’; that is, authority grounded in experience and sustained through awareness of additional forms of experiential and institutional knowledges. Empirically, this study sheds light on how donor-conceived people – as people with lived experience – expand the subject positions afforded to them in institutional contexts, inviting legitimacy and belonging.
Author: Dr U Du Plessis (Rhodes University)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Supportability as a tool for identifying reproductive injustices in South Africa
Presenter
Dr U Du Plessis (Rhodes University)
Authors
Dr U Du Plessis (Rhodes University) - Primary Author
In the mid-1990s, Black American feminist activists and scholars developed the reproductive justice framework that allows for a more structural and intersectional analysis that pushes reproductive freedom beyond the question of rights and choice, turning it into a matter of social justice. In the last few years, the National Planning Unit has been introducing the concept of sexual and reproductive justice (SRJ) to South Africa through a series of seminars and a national conference. The aim is to create the National SRJ Strategy that would streamline SRJ as the framework under which all sexual and reproductive health and rights work is conducted in the country. This Strategy will be tabled to Cabinet in March 2024. The Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction operationalised Catriona Macleod’s supportability framework by creating a tool that can surface a multi-faceted picture of the factors that enable or hinder positive pregnancy outcomes. This framework allows for analysing the intersection of pregnant women’s physical and mental health, cognitions, emotions, and behaviour with micro-level interactive spaces (e.g., partners, family, healthcare service providers) and macro-level issues (e.g., policy, cultural patterns). ‘Supportability’ is conceptualised as a woman’s capacity to carry a pregnancy in a manner that has positive health and welfare outcomes for women and is intricately interweaved with, and can never be separated from, ‘support’. Data collected using the PSRK can be used by government to inform policies and interventions in relation to pregnancy. This paper will introduce the concept of supportability, the Pregnancy Supportability Research Kit (PSRK) and its operationalisation and discuss its usefulness in measuring and identifying reproductive injustices during pregnancy.
Author: Mr M Nyirongo (Malawi University of Science and Technology)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Decolonising Time: (Re)thinking Time in Malawian Reproductive Health Journalism
Presenter
Mr M Nyirongo (Malawi University of Science and Technology)
Authors
Mr M Nyirongo (Malawi University of Science and Technology) - Primary Author
Abstract
Whiteness in Malawi is pervasive and has, in part, contributed to the sustenance and propagation of the colonial project in the country, particularly in reproductive health journalism. This research study investigated how whiteness and colonial frameworks have shaped how time is perceived and managed in reproductive health news reports in Malawi and investigated Native Malawian viewpoints on time in relation to reproductive health journalism. The study investigated how this colonial project breeds perpetual infancy, violates human rights, and traps reproductive journalists in an unending colonial past. This research paper uses Giordano Nanni`s theory of colonisation of time, which he advanced through his book ‘The Colonisation of Time: Ritual, Routine and Resistance in the British Empire.’ Nanni's (2012) argues that we typically think in terms of hours, minutes, and seconds, making alternative consciousness seem unimaginable. Our daily lives are, therefore, controlled by the clock. The study also used Francis Nyamnjoh's notion of conviviality to comprehend how Malawian and Western times could work together to support the development of Malawian reproductive health journalism. The study also triangulated content analysis and in-depth interviews where the researcher analysed news reports in the Daily Times for 2023 to understand how time played out when writing the reproductive health news reports. The researcher also interviewed six Malawian reproductive health journalists to document their lived experiences of the colonial project of time. These were full-time, part-time and volunteer journalists so that the researcher could gather well-rounded information. This study is critical because it addresses the question of time as a colonial project, which is usually not taken seriously in reproductive health journalism.

Key Words : Reproduction health; Time; journalism; conviviality
Author: Ms D Masuko (University of Pretoria)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Faithful conception - Perceptions of faith healers on the causes and treatment of infertility in Kimberley, South Africa
Presenter
Ms D Masuko (University of Pretoria)
Authors
Ms D Masuko (University of Pretoria) - Primary Author
In the context of scarce healthcare resources and silences around sexual and reproductive health matters, infertility is viewed as a low priority issue in the African continent. However, studies have shown that infertility is associated with negative social and psychological consequences such as stigmatization, verbal and physical abuse, depression, marital instability and loss of social status (Dyer et al., 2002). Indigenous health practitioners like traditional healers, herbalists and faith healers are the preferred treatment options when financial constraints, inaccessible healthcare facilities, lack of holistic treatment, misalignment with cultural and/or religious beliefs, poor prognosis and a lack of privacy discourage individuals from seeking biomedical treatment. Although previous studies have examined the use of traditional healing and herbal medicine in treating infertility (Kashani & Akhondzadeh, 2017; Srishan et al., 2020; Baakeleng et al, 2023), scholarship is lacking on the role that faith healing plays in treating involuntary childlessness. This ethnographic study explores how faith healers from the Lutheran church understand and treat infertility in Kimberley, South Africa. Key informant interviews and participant observations will be conducted with faith healers and congregants who have struggled or are currently struggling to conceive and have sought help from the church. This study contributes to a deeper understanding of how babies are made (or not made) in the contemporary South African context, the communities of support that individuals struggling with infertility draw on, and the role that social factors like gender, class and religion play in understandings of reproduction.
Author: Mr ()
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
The Dynamic Interplay between Pharmaceutical Hegemony and Vernacular Remedies of Male Sexual “non-performance” among Young Men in Tanzania.
Presenter
Mr ()
Authors
Mr () - Primary Author
Over the last decade, African countries, and Tanzania in particular, has witnessed the proliferation of both vernacular and pharmaceutical sexual enhancement treatments for men with sexual “non-performance”. Although studies indicate that both interventions facilitating men to achieve and/or sustain penile erection reflect on – and reinforce – the phallocentric and performative male sexuality, it remains unclear how men’s rejection of pharmaceutical treatment - in favor of vernacular remedies challenges authoritative knowledge of biomedical/pharmaceutical remedies in the healing market evolving around male sexual “non-performance”. Drawing on ethnographic data from urban Tanzania, this paper explores how the use of vernacular remedies of male sexual “non-performance” play a role in empowering indigenous peoples’ knowledge of and expertise of vernacular remedies. The paper argues that men’s rejection of pharmaceutical treatment - in favor of vernacular remedies becomes - an opportunity for empowering indigenous knowledge and medical indigeneity that are also sustained within a broader socio-cultural environment in the country. The findings demonstrate that men’s engagement with vernacular remedies for successful “performance” of masculinity highlight the dynamic interplay between pharmaceutical hegemony and the choices men make. In a nutshell, men’s choice of vernacular remedies at the expense of highly technologized pharmaceutical treatments draws our attention towards more just reproductive knowledges.

Key words: pharmaceutical hegemony, vernacular treatment, authoritative knowledge, male sexual “non-performance”, Tanzania.
Author: Ms Anitha Tingira (University of Dar es Salaam)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
The Maternal Referral System, Childbirth Experiences and Healthcare Providers’ Dilemmas in Lalta Ward, Tanzania
Presenter
Ms Anitha Tingira (University of Dar es Salaam)
Authors
Ms Anitha Tingira (University of Dar es Salaam) - Primary Author
Following persistently high maternal mortality rate in Global South countries, in 1994, the WHO identified the maternal referral system as an important intervention for the reduction of maternal deaths in these countries which are characterized by a shortage or resources and health care providers, low pay and difficult working environments. Tanzania initiated a strict program to implement the maternal referral system in 2007 but maternal mortality rate is still high at 104/100,000 livebirths. Drawing on ten months of ethnographic research rural Tanzania, I discuss the implementation of the maternal referral system and its impact on women and healthcare providers who work in resource-poor and challenging environments. I argue that, although the maternal referral system intends to help women with high-risk pregnancies to timely access emergency obstetric care and prevent maternal deaths, its implementation subjects some women to suffering and the risk of death. I further contend that, ethical guidelines on the implementation of the maternal referral system pose challenges to healthcare providers’ moral stances, working and social relationships. I describe the ways in which healthcare providers (re)interpret intervention and guidelines in order to provide maternal healthcare that is possible in that context. This paper underscores the ways in which the practices of health care providers are shaped by and are often in response to local women’s needs. The resulting reproductive knowledge are not just a top-down imposition but are constituted through ongoing practice and changing contexts.

Author: Prof B.A. Mulemi (University of Pretoria)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Wishing Nyamreche Reproduction Healers away in Western Kenya: Traditional Midwives’ Resilience in emergent maternal care pluralism
Presenter
Prof B.A. Mulemi ()
Authors
Prof B.A. Mulemi (University of Pretoria) - Primary Author
The burden of maternal and newborn mortality, and reproductive morbidity in Kenyan is alarmingly high. Persistence of the problem over a couple of decades. necessitated the Government of Kenya’s health system reforms that emphasise antenatal care, childbirth and perinatal care by Skilled Birth Attendants (SBAs). The reform policy tends to anticipate complete replacement of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and reproduction therapists, after transitional collaboration with SBAs with biomedical training. Lay practitioners with formal education are often enlisted to compliment reproductive health promotion and generational shift to ‘modernised’ non-clinical birth attendants, designated as Community Health Workers or Community Health Volunteers. TBAs’ Health promotion and therapeutic practices have been gradually stigmatised, disregarded, and even proscribed or repressed by the government, and agents of biomedicine and other therapeutic systems. However, rapid analysis of the patterns of maternal and child health care resort point to low rates of childbirth, and antenatal and perinatal care assisted by SBAs in clinical health facilities. Many women and their households in rural and low-income urban areas choose pregnancy management, delivery and post-partum care at home by TBAs and their proxies. Drawing of ethnography of maternal health care in Ahero sub-county in Western Kenya, this paper explores the place of Luo people’s nyamreche traditional midwifery practice and healer institution in the emergent reproduction health care pluralism in Kenya. It sets out to account for the perceived resilience of the institution in spite of its active colonial and post-colonial prohibition as a variant of indigenous African therapeutic systems. The paper analyses the epistemic, and human and ethnomedical ecology underpinnings of reproductive health of the nyamreche obstetrics institution. It situates the discussion in contemporary political economy of the discourse on cooperation, integration and proscription of traditional midwives in emergent Kenyan and other African therapeutic pluralism.

Key words: Nyamrerwa, Reproduction ethnomedical ecology, Traditional Birth attendants, Resilience, care pluralism, resilience. Western Kenya
Author: Ms N Ncube (The Sarraounia Public Health Trust)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Women’s Experiences of Miscarriage in South Africa: a need for change in policy and practice
Presenter
Ms N Ncube (The Sarraounia Public Health Trust)
Authors
Ms N Ncube (The Sarraounia Public Health Trust) - Primary Author
Miscarriage is the abrupt end of a potential new life. The moments, days, and years that follow the event, are closely tied to social and medical interactions and can be life changing for women that experience it. Many women seek medical health care after experiencing a miscarriage, which may transform the experience into a medical event. This chapter presents a narrative analysis of ten women who have experienced miscarriage in urban South Africa. The women were between the ages of 19-45 in 2018 and from different cultural and racial backgrounds. In this chapter, we suggest that women's experiences of miscarriage are entangled with their gender identities and with notions that tie pregnancy to femininity. Furthermore, the biomedical care received after the miscarriage and interactions with healthcare personnel affect how women construct, navigate and make sense of their experiences. A smooth transition from the embodiment of pregnancy to the embodiment of pregnancy loss is important. This can be provided through an empathetic social support system (including family and friends), and transformed medical health care practices that place the best interests of women at the centre, not only in treating physical symptoms of a miscarriage but also through providing a holistic approach that addresses the root cause of a miscarriage, facilitates physical recovery, paves a way for emotional healing and nurtures just reproductive futures amidst colonial legacies.
Author: Ms Manna Mostaghim ()
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
(Re)producing Discrimination and Fat Patients: Identifying the evidence used to support funding exemptions for Fat Patients that seek in vitro fertilisation in NHS England.
Presenter
Ms Manna Mostaghim ()
Authors
Ms Manna Mostaghim () - Primary Author
In 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) categorised infertility as a “disability,” and accordingly stated that the “right to reproduce” should be afforded to every “individual”. One such facet to realise the “right to reproduce” is the use of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). The WHO, in a series of endorsed publications, has identified that the lack of access to ART is an issue primarily in the global South due to (1) the limitations on health resources; (2) the absence of appropriate legislation; and, (3) a lack of education on ART within a population (Butler 2003; Cui 2010; Ombelet 2011). However, these same economic, legal, and social factors seen in the global South are replicated amongst marginalised and disenfranchised subpopulations in the global North. This paper thus advocates for a universal and cohesive understanding of how ART can be used to realise the ‘right to reproduce’ by forming a universal set of standards for ART access in the global South and North.

Fat Patients often face discrimination and experience rationed ART based on endemic stigma of their bodies within healthcare systems (LaMarre 2020; Brown 2019). The right to reproduce for Fat Patients is therefore poorly realised. Fat Patients (patients with a BMI of over 30) in the UK are representative of a sub-population that are disenfranchised and marginalised within NHS IVF services across the UK. This is because IVF commissioning policies throughout NHS England have implemented funding exemptions for women with a high BMI. First, the evidence used by Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) to support funding exemptions for Fat Patients has not been identified. Second, there has been no proposal to address the marginalisation of Fat Patients within NHS IVF services in the UK. This paper proposes to use the WHO’s mandate to codify the right to reproduce for Fat Patients within NHS England.
Author: Mr Souvik Pyne (CommonHealth)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Normal Versus Political Reproduction - An Indian context
Presenter
Mr Souvik Pyne (CommonHealth)
Authors
Mr Souvik Pyne (CommonHealth) - Primary Author
The concept of reproduction is ideally an individual process across all its contours. However, cis hetero patriarchal structures layered with colonial approaches have created a complex and prescriptive narrative around social acceptance of reproduction. In the current socio-political milieu, there has been advancement of Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) alongside direct and indirect population control interventions which enable reproduction for certain identities only. In India, public health policies are strongly influenced by neo-Malthusian ideologies and colonial influences leading to exclusionary policies, programmatic interventions and media depiction of the same. Among many other marginalized identities, the exclusion of LGBTQIA+ identities is pronounced.

Affirmative actions for diverse identities and bodies are often made centering privileged reference frameworks, for example queer-trans* inclusion is measured by comparison to cis-het norms. This unequal standard perpetuates the understanding that wants and needs of privileged identities are “normal” and everything else is “political”.

While foregrounding reproductive justice there are seen similar patterns, a cis-het, non-disabled, oppressor caste couple is encouraged to give birth and everything else is censored by the system. This paper aims to point out systemic understanding of reproductive autonomy on who can and should give birth, who cannot and should not give birth and who will have to give birth, by looking at mythological and cultural references in the Indian context, its impact and influence on social norms, and how that translates into violence on marginalized identities in health care systems, bodily autonomy is curved and reproductive justice is dismantled.
Author: Dr M Kaufulu (Creighton University)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
African Sexuality [Re]Considered: Colonial Formalisms, Civic Publicness & Sexuality as Decolonial Praxis
Presenter
Dr M Kaufulu (Creighton University)
Authors
Dr M Kaufulu (Creighton University) - Primary Author
In this article, my aim is to contribute to discussions around African sexuality vis-à-vis certain taken for granted notions about its embeddedness within rituals. I attempt to spotlight the discourse of ritualism within the conceptions secrecy and associations of taboo with African sexuality: I note that the highly pervasive association these conceptions with sex and sexuality to "Africanness" run parallel to conceptions of institutionalism. Institutionalism within these discourses functions to portray African sexuality as "abnormal" while the ritualisms which underpin European societies and cultures around sex and sexuality are invisibilized and “explained away” beneath the terminologies that go with said institutionalism. As such, the African is reproduced within in some strands of postcolonial knowledges intrinsically racialized, politically hollow, with an entirely carnal sexuality which is thought both essential as well as innate to the African identity. The theoretical landscape thus retains a picture of “proper” human sexuality as European and white, revealing continuities with racial-colonial anthropologies and their classificatory distinctions between the figure of the European as intrinsically civilized and civilizing, versus object of the African as intrinsically uncivilized and in need of civilizing.
Author: Dr Bijoya Roy (Centre for Women's Development Studies)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
(Re)shaping Maternity Care Policy in India: Using Decolonial Lens
Presenter
Dr Bijoya Roy (Centre for Women's Development Studies)
Authors
Dr Bijoya Roy (Centre for Women's Development Studies) - Primary Author
In the millennium, India’s maternity care policy landscape has been constituted by asymmetrical power and knowledge relations. It calls for understanding the policy processes linked to birthing, midwifery workforce and training. The history of birthing knowledge encompassing Dais (indigenous midwives) and midwifery in India is rooted in the complex history of upper and middle caste – class pursuit of modernist projects, the rise of colonial biomedical knowledge, the dominance of professional bodies and alienation of the local birthing knowledge.
This paper is drawn from research studies undertaken over the last decade around maternity care, birthing, and women’s health in the digital landscape. I explore how birthing and maternity workforce (midwifery) policy in India is shaped by the power of ideas and knowledge entangled, transferred and diffused through biomedical discourse on reducing maternal mortality, elite networks discourse on midwifery relegating Dais birthing knowledge and underscoring the shortage of skilled workforce and reproductive violence.
The findings show how policies include and exclude specific knowledge, the diverse voices of women and training and how the hierarchical structure of the health workforce has undermined the role of Auxiliary Nurse Midwife from community midwifery, thus rendering them invisible. Lastly, it identifies institutional mechanisms that embed the birthing and midwifery model and its limitations. It highlights the areas of inequity, the need for more supportive care and the dichotomy between community and hospital. This will enable the development of frameworks for providing equitable, respectful care within cultural contexts and a step towards decolonising maternity care.
Author: Prof S. Falabella Luco ()
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Language, knowledges, power and desire in re-worlding reproduction: the potential, lessons learned and challenges of the ESE:O methodology for teaching critical thinking, writing and publishing.
Presenter
Prof S. Falabella Luco ()
Authors
Prof S. Falabella Luco () - Primary Author
If language is the home of being, then how does the fact that the main academic conversations on “re-worlding” reproduction are realized in English? How can knowledge and teaching communities ensure a positive impact in the just distribution of power and knowledges of reproduction? In the process of “re-worlding” reproduction and circulation what is the place of the body, desire, ethics and the aesthetic?
In this essay I review and query ESE:O and it´s writing methodology from a feminist, critical, situated, and decolonial perspective. ESE:O is an autonomous, non-profit organization dedicated to harnessing and strengthening critical and creative thinking and democratic literacy in the Global South. It was founded in Santiago, Chile, in 2005, in the context of the transition to democracy and the emergence of the internet and digital culture to resist the neo liberal, colonial and post dictatorship culture of patriarchal white capitalist supremacy. ESE:O teaches courses and programs in digital environments, using the ESE:O methodology, a collaborative and active methodology that aims to develop competences in critical and creative thinking, language and communication in a plurality of artistic, academic and activist communities across a diversity of socio-cultural and linguistic environments.
In a context where academic writing and publishing in Academic English in “international” Global North peer-review academic journals is the uncontested form for gaining power and legitimacy, how can local academics, artists and activists and their communities re-imagine themselves and their agencies for empowerment and social transformation? What are the possibilities and challenges faced when re-worlding reproduction knowledges and practices in the Global South? What does not enter, fit, and remain in the outer borders, and how does it relate to hope and the quest for “the good life”? How to claim the ethic, the aesthetic and desire in re-worlding reproduction knowledges and practices for sustainable, strong and empowered communities in the Global South?
Author: Ms Paula Martone (Autonomous University Barcelona)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Situating global concerns at the local scale: Insights from the Artificial Placenta clinical trial in Spain
Presenter
Ms Paula Martone (Autonomous University Barcelona)
Authors
Ms Paula Martone (Autonomous University Barcelona) - Primary Author
While neonatal expertise and technologies have been perfectioned over the last decades improving preterm infants’ survival rates, extreme prematurity -referring to infants born before 28 weeks of gestation- still represents a challenge for neonatal care. The Artificial Placenta technology (AP), currently under experimentation, is presented by its developers as holding hope for these patients and families. However, the progress in the existing clinical trials and the expectation of its implementation in humans in the near future are generating debates and concerns. For instance, some scholars have pointed to the fact that an unequal access to the technology may exacerbate the existing inequalities among women's reproductive health and autonomy, an aspect that is particularly relevant if we consider the socio-economic and racial aspects embedded in the incidence of preterm birth and the severity of its sequelae. Drawing upon 8 months of ethnographic fieldwork within a pediatric and maternal hospital and the research centre developing a prototype of the AP in Spain, we delve into the views of health professionals, preterm infants’ parents, and stakeholders involved in the AP project in relation to the existing debates. With the aim to explore how these concerns may be materialized in the Spanish context, we focus on questions of access, mobilities, and decision-making in neonatal life-sustaining practices and technologies. We suggest that a geographically localized and contextual exploration that relies on current health practices, organization systems, and the experiences of the actors involved is crucial to make sense of what the Artificial Placenta might mean.
Author: Dr Z Majombozi (Stellenbosch University)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
“He had pharmacy before he was even born”: Exploring the use of non-prescribed medicines given to infants in Khayelitsha, Cape Town
Presenter
Dr Z Majombozi (Stellenbosch University)
Authors
Dr Z Majombozi (Stellenbosch University) - Primary Author
In 2011, The South African Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi issued the Tshwane Declaration of Support for Breastfeeding followed by a series of interventions to encourage mothers to exclusively breastfeed. Despite interventions and recommendations, only a few infants are exclusively breastfed for the recommended six months as mothers continue to introduce complementary feeds and non-prescribed medicines to their infants. This ethnographic study shows that in a world where life is precarious due to illnesses, poverty and other social ills that threaten life, mothers administer non-prescribed medications in their efforts to keep infants healthy and safe. I suggest that whilst exclusive breastfeeding policies and the portrayal of breastfeeding as “Nature’s Health Plan” displays how the State imagines sustaining infant life and ensuring a thriving population, the introduction of non -prescribed medicine reflects how mothers imagine sustaining the lives of their infants in a ‘sick world”.
Author: Ms LK Kavege (King's College London)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Traditions from the Past, Technologies for the Future: Developing a bio-techno-social ethics for reproductive assisted technologies and practices in Africa
Presenter
Ms LK Kavege (King's College London)
Authors
Ms LK Kavege (King's College London) - Primary Author
The history of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in the global north while often acclaimed as promoting reproductive liberties can also be traced back to attitudes and practices that have, medicalized pregnancy, industrialized birth, objectified and alienated women, and removed person becoming from kin relations and collective livelihoods.
From ultrasounds to IVF and now with the advent of scifi-esque extracorporeal gestation (commonly known as artificial womb technology) this increasingly technocratic paradigm forces scientists, scholars, policymakers, and the public to wrestle with old and new questions around reproductive knowledge, practices, and justice.

Scholarly work on the industrialization of reproduction illustrates a dialectical power laden struggle between the natural and the artificial, technology and culture, tradition and modernity. With globalization, more countries have embraced high-tech reproductive interventions and their corresponding norms and practices; as a result, ancestral knowledge, social relations, traditions, and rituals become lost.

Nevertheless, while ARTs are often disruptive, they need not be destructive. Drawing from bioethics, philosophy of technology, and STS scholarship, I will employ the non-neutrality thesis of technology to explore how ARTs (re)shape our social and moral infrastructure.

More specifically, I will investigate how to frame and address the socio-ethical challenges that the domestication of ARTs – and their corresponding social practices (or lack thereof) – pose in the context of sub-Saharan African realities. I will tentatively propose that scholars look to Afro- and African futurist fiction to develop conceptual and actionable frameworks necessary to reimagine our bio-techno-sociality and create just and culturally situated reproductive futures.
Ultimately this piece will compel Global South scholars and societies to reject the Western bio-technocratic hegemony that has uniformized cross-cultural life-making practices.
Author: Ms NL Rooney (Deakin University )
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Reassessing Ayurveda and Reproduction in the Postgenomic Era
Presenter
Ms NL Rooney (Deakin University )
Authors
Ms NL Rooney (Deakin University ) - Primary Author
Ayurveda is often presented as a medicine which is both ancient and ahead of its time. Recently in India there has been a resurgence of a reproductive principles linked to Ayurvedic medicine called Garbh Sanskar, a regime that sees a woman through the whole course of pregnancy, from preconception through to post-natal care. The rise in interest in Garbh Sanskar is also argued to be linked to the rise in Hindu nationalist sentiment in India. Epigenetics presents a new biological epistemology, in which Ayurveda can question and contest its relationship to biomedicine, particularly in the reproductive arena. This paper argues that the postgenomic era combined with the biopolitical regime of Hindu nationalism has been able to braid modern Ayurveda with older existing Ayurvedic ontologies of immaculate health, particularly during pregnancy, and new forms of epigenetic science. It is here in which biomedical and Ayurvedic biological ideals are being contested and rewritten. This paper explores what is meant by ‘old’ and ‘new’ knowledges in this context. Drawing on ethnographic data and interviews with Ayurvedic professionals, it asks if the postgenomic era offers a new opportunity to supersede colonial narratives about the reproductive body or if it poses a risk of reinforcing previous essentialised thinking and biopolitical powers.
Author: Dr V Boydell (UCL)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Hidden in plain sight: Coercion and Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive Methods (LARC).
Presenter
Dr V Boydell (UCL)
Authors
Dr V Boydell (UCL) - Primary Author
In recent years there has been extensive promotion of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) globally to increase access to what is widely considered a highly effective contraceptive method. Yet, despite these efforts, evidence points towards a worrying propensity for coercion that is associated with LARCs. Hence, we undertook a meta-narrative review across nine databases to draw together the heterogeneous and complex evidence on the coercive practices associated with LARC programmes across disciplines. A total of 92 papers were grouped into three metanarratives: (1) law, (2) public health and medicine, and (3) the social sciences. Across disciplines, the evidence supports the conclusion that coercive practices surrounding LARC programmes always target marginalized, vulnerable and excluded population(s). Looking at coercion across disciplines reveals its many forms, and we present a continuum of coercive practices associated with LARC programming. We found that each discipline only provides a partial picture of coercion, and this fragmentation is a knowledge practice that prevents us from collecting accurate information on this subject and may contribute to the perpetuation of these suspect practices. We present this review to address longstanding silences around coercion and LARC, and to encourage the development of clinical and programmatic guidance to actively safeguard against coercion and uphold reproductive rights and justice.
Author: Prof F C Ross (UCT)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
The Fetus: Conceptual puzzles and corporeal boundaries
Presenter
Prof F C Ross (UCT)
Authors
Prof F C Ross (UCT) - Primary Author
The biomedical approach has, until recently, taken conception as the beginning of life; fertilisation is generation’s Day Zero. That ova have a long, indeed multigenerational history was largely incidental to this image. As developments in the scientific understanding of the body expand, so too does the puzzle of early life and its relation to the world. As a rich ethnographic literature has long demonstrated, the biomedical model is merely one model of how humans understand the origins of new life. Current research in a variety of disciplines suggests we need to view the foetus as offering new promissory horizons for an understanding of human histories and contexts as much as futures. Recent scientific framings of human gestation, development, temporality, and embodiment offer important questions about the pulsing energies, reciprocities, and refusals that form becoming-human matter, extending our understanding of the fetus’s relation to the world. This calls for analyses that take account of the vibrancy and responsiveness of living entities in their situated complexity. The paper offers a concept of fetality as a means through which to reflect on changing conceptions of the fetus and relationship. It considers the picture of the foetus that emerges from new biomedical knowledge and traces the representation of the fetus through five domains in which fetality is at stake in public policy or health practices. It demonstrates the kinds of attentiveness and responsivity that the fetus generates in contemporary social life, focusing on questions of relations as they materialise at the interface of biology, affect, environment and sociality in the early twenty-first century.


Author: Dr B Goodarzi (Department of Midwifery Science at Amsterdam UMC, VUmc)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Pregnancy experiences of transgender and gender expansive individuals: a systematic scoping review from a critical midwifery perspective
Presenter
Dr B Goodarzi (Department of Midwifery Science at Amsterdam UMC, VUmc)
Authors
Dr B Goodarzi (Department of Midwifery Science at Amsterdam UMC, VUmc) - Primary Author
Evidence suggests that transgender and gender expansive people are more likely to have suboptimal pregnancy outcomes compared to cisgender people. The aim of this study was to gain a deeper understanding in the role of midwifery in these inequities by analysing the pregnancy experiences of transgender and gender expansive people from a critical midwifery perspective.

We conducted a systematic scoping review. We included 15 papers published since 2010 that reported on pregnancy experiences of people who had experienced gestational pregnancy at least once, and were transgender, non-binary or had other gender expansive identities.

Three themes emerged from our analysis: ‘Navigating identity during pregnancy’, ‘Experiences with mental health and wellbeing’, and ‘Encounters in the maternal and newborn care system’. Although across studies participants reported positive experiences, both within healthcare and social settings, access to gender-affirmative (midwifery) care and daily social realities were often shaped by trans negativity and transphobia.

In order to improve care outcomes of transgender and gender expansive people it is necessary to counter anti-trans ideologies by ‘fixing the knowledge’ of midwifery curricula. This requires challenging dominant cultural norms and images around pregnancy, reconsidering the way in which the relationship between ‘sex’, ‘gender’ and ‘pregnancy’ is understood and given meaning to in midwifery, and applying an intersectional lens to investigate the relationship between gender inequality and reproductive inequity of people with multiple, intersecting marginalized identities who may experience the accumulated impacts of racism, ageism, and classism. Future research should identify pedagogical frameworks that are suitable for guiding implementation efforts.
Author: Dr B Goodarzi (Department of Midwifery Sciene at Amsterdam UMC, VUmc)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
“You care better for people who look like you”: A mixed-methods study of ethnic bias in pain assessment in maternal and newborn care in the Netherlands.
Presenter
Dr B Goodarzi (Department of Midwifery Sciene at Amsterdam UMC, VUmc)
Authors
Dr B Goodarzi (Department of Midwifery Sciene at Amsterdam UMC, VUmc) - Primary Author
Studies show ethnic inequities in maternal outcomes globally, with the conscious and unconscious unequal treatment by maternal and newborn care professionals (MNCP) indicated as a contributing factor. Through a comprehensive mixed-methods approach, our study looked at the assessment of pain, which is influenced by historically rooted misconceptions ethnic differences. We sought to uncover the existence of and mechanisms behind ethnic discrimination in pain assessment and treatment in maternal and newborn care MNC in the Netherlands. For interpretation we used the theory of “Obstetric Racism” by Dána-Ain Davis as a framework to identify instances of discriminatory treatment.

In the quantitative study, we analyzed 54 cases from the Netherlands Obstetric Surveillance System on uterine rupture, a rare obstetric condition with pain as one of the first markers requiring timely intervention. We used descriptive statistics and non-parametric testing to examine the association between maternal ethnicity and language barrier, and MNCP’s pain assessment and treatment. Our investigation revealed stark inequities in pain response among ethnic marginalized groups, impacting both care and maternal-perinatal outcomes. In the qualitative study, we explored the perspectives of MNCP through a series of 13 semi-structured interviews. For data analysis we used an inductive and deductive thematic analysis approach. The findings unmasked deeply embedded stereotypes, revealing how cultural norms and perceptions intertwine with pain assessment, contributing to discrimination in pain assessment and treatment.

Our study highlights the persistent challenges in health research to accurately gather and assess data on ethnicity. Our findings echo global knowledge, underscoring the pivotal role of ethnicity, shared language and cultural (in)sensitivity as barriers to reproductive justice.
Author: Ms TL Sall (Gaston Berger, St-Louis, Senegal)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Navigating Cultural and Religious Morals: Decolonial Approaches to Addressing Gender-Based Violence in Senegal and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH)
Presenter
Ms TL Sall (Gaston Berger, St-Louis, Senegal)
Authors
Ms TL Sall (Gaston Berger, St-Louis, Senegal) - Primary Author
This article examines the intricate strategies employed by educators in Senegal to address gender-based violence (GBV) and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) among teenagers. Community-level educators must navigate between a globalised developmental narrative and local cultural and religious norms. Where globalised and hegemonic developmental approaches disseminated from the West most often deploy an individual human rights perspective, local settings in Senegal generally take a more communal approach to rights. I argue that it is important to understand the role of community actors on the ground and position them as key contributors to resolving GBV issues and promoting SRH for teenagers. The paper explores the roles and limitations of community actors, particularly the Badienou Gox, imams, and other kinds of informal educators, perceived as authoritative figures in the community. How do these community actors navigate the taboo surrounding sexuality in Senegal, challenge societal norms, and foster open discussions, while remaining connected to local values? How do they in this way resolve GBV issues? The paper thus examines how globalized hegemonic knowledge about reproduction is shaped, challenged, and reshaped within the Senegalese context, emphasizing the importance of a decolonial perspective that is built by knowledgeable local actors, for more just reproductive futures. The paper draws on data from my doctoral thesis and the ongoing HIRA project by the Laboratory for the Analysis of Societies and Powers/Africa Diaspora (LASPAD) at Gaston Berger University. This research-action project is funded by the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
Author: Dr N Merleau-Ponty (CNRS)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Reproduction as Regeneration : Changing Power Dynamics between Technology and Fertility?
Presenter
Dr N Merleau-Ponty (CNRS)
Authors
Dr N Merleau-Ponty (CNRS) - Primary Author
The anthropology of assisted reproduction has described extensively how reproductive biotechnologies are techno-fixes to a failing fertility that can be harnessed by biological control. A smaller body of literature has focused on laboratory work, embryo culture and stem cell research, looking at the intertwining of science, infertility and technological power. Along this line, I have done fieldwork in a basic research laboratory based in Cambridge (UK), where gamete differentiation from embryonic stem cells is the object of experimentation. In vitro gametogenesis is a technology in the making which application is still to be invented using human cells. This said, laboratory knowledge production already gives critical interpretation of reproductive cells and their role in the relationship between fertility and technology. Observing the daily life of some biologists and running interviews, this paper describes the biological knowledge that is currently emerging from the research on in vitro gametogenesis. It argues that fertility is interpreted as a regenerative process. The concept of regeneration points at the inner capacity of cells to reshape their fertility. Doing so, it also opens up a different understanding of reproductive biotechnologies. Not so much understood as techno-fixes, they are built to nurture fertility, which power appears to reside in its relative autonomy from biological control.

• Question addressed : Reproductive knowledges: How are ‘new’ and ‘old’ knowledges of reproduction (re)shaping practices of life-making and life-sustaining?
Author: Dr Martina Yopo Diaz (Universidad Diego Portales)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Against the Clock. Feminist and decolonial perspectives on reproductive time
Presenter
Dr Martina Yopo Diaz (Universidad Diego Portales)
Authors
Dr Martina Yopo Diaz (Universidad Diego Portales) - Primary Author
We often think of reproduction in terms of clocks and calendars. The first stage of birth is known to last from six to twelve hours and is characterized by contractions that are five to fifteen minutes apart. Infertility is medically determined by the failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months of regular unprotected sex and women that are 40 years old are often considered ‘too old’ to become mothers. Although time is at the core of reproduction, there are few systematic theoretical reflections and empirical studies on reproductive time. Drawing on feminist and decolonial approaches, this paper critically addresses clock time as an effective tool of oppression that colonizes women’s reproductive experiences. I argue that the clock underlines experiences of reproductive injustice by prescribing the rhythms and boundaries of childbearing and mandating when it is possible and desirable to have children. Through empirical explorations of pregnancy and birth in Chile, I outline how reproduction is colonized by social expectations of knowing, tracking, planning, and controlling time that burden women negotiating childbearing, often leading to fertility anxiety. I also expose how reproduction is colonized by social imperatives of managing time to increase efficiency and profit that reshape medical practice, often leading to obstetric violence. In doing so, this paper contributes to unravel the social and subjective consequence of prevailing narratives of reproductive time entrenched in medicine and society and to challenge hegemonic reproductive knowledge to create more just reproductive futures.
Author: Mr ()
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Obstetric racism as necropolitical disinvestment of care in the Netherlands: How uneven reproduction is effectuated through linguistic racism, exoticization, and stereotypes.
Presenter
Mr Bahareh Goodarzi (Department of Midwifery Science, Amsterdam UMC, VUmc)
Authors
Mr () - Primary Author
In the Netherlands the risk of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality are uneven, maternal mortality ratios are at least 50% higher for pregnant people with a migration background and from marginalized racialized communities. Scholar and activist Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s defines racism as ‘the institutional and state-sanctioned practices that make particular groups of people vulnerable to harm and premature death’, Drawing on Gilmore’s definition of racism, Dána-Ain Davis was the first to theorize obstetric racism in the context of the United States as that which happens at the intersection of medical racism and obstetric violence . In this paper, we conceptualized how Davis’ concepts of uneven reproduction and obstetric racism are linked in the Netherlands through linguistic racism, othering, and racial stereotypes. We considered uneven reproduction as consisting of a bio- and necropolitics that optimizes certain life through investments and negates “other” life through disinvestments of reproductive care. We interviewed midwives, doulas, midwives in training, and mothers and found a similar logic of selection and deselection, or investment and disinvestment, takes place daily on the basis of linguistic racism, othering through exoticization and the racial stereotype of Black women being “natural” birthers, while other marginalized racialized women are seen as “bad” birthers.exoticization and the stereotype of Black women being natural birthers. Language becomes a basis for dismissing mothers as deserving of the best care that optimizes life, thereby exposing them to a necropolitical form of neglect, as it makes these mothers more vulnerable for death. Exoticization emerges as an effective form of othering, wherein pregnant people of color are at the center of attention, but not in a way constitutive of their humanity, treating them as exceptions that affirm the biopolitical norm of the white pregnant body. This othering process of selection and deselection is reflective of the mechanism of investment and disinvestment central to uneven reproduction. And finally, the usage of contradictory stereotypes function as the justification for substandard care, where Black women are seen as natural birthers and therefore need less care, while refugees are seen as bad birthers who end up with a Caesarean section anyways and therefore need less care to enable a vaginal birth. In both cases, the necropolitical disinvestment of care in the daily practice of the obstetric institution is facilitated by stereotypes, which makes these mothers more vulnerable to premature death, and is congruent with the uneven, disinvestment in the reproduction of marginalized racialized groups. Our analysis reveals how uneven reproduction is the structural racism that dictates investments and disinvestment in the reproduction of differently racialized groups, while obstetric racism is an institutionally sanctioned practice, facilitated by stereotypes, directly responsible for the effectuation of vulnerability to premature death, and birth, of marginalized racialized groups.
Author: Mr ()
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Epistemic Justice in Global Sexual Reproductive Maternal and Newborn Care (SRMNC) Research: a systematic scoping review.
Presenter
Ms B Goodarzi (The Quality Maternal and Newborn Care Research Alliance)
Authors
Mr () - Primary Author
In this presentation, we will report findings from a system systematic scoping review on epistemic injustice in global sexual, reproductive, maternal, and newborn care (SRMNC) research. Epistemic injustice is a threat to representative and comprehensive knowledge production in SRMNC, where the knowledge held by people who belong to marginalised groups is systematically afforded less credibility and their interpretive resources are not recognized. Little is known about epistemic injustice in SRMNC.

The purpose of our study is to explore the following research questions; How is research injustice on SRMNC produced, upheld, and perpetuated?; What are underrepresented researchers saying about inequity in research practices related to authorship practices, research partnerships, academic writing, editorial practices, sensemaking practice, the choice of audience or research framing, questions, and methods and access to data sets?; What strategies can be used to promote research justice in the field of SRMNC? Specifically, we aimed to:1) locate and center underrepresented voices describing inequities in the production of knowledge on global SRMNC; 2) identify core injustices and strategies marginalized researchers use to navigate the inequitable distribution of global SRMNC research resources; and 3) identify barriers and facilitators to just SRMNC research practices.

We describe findings from this work and conclude by describing a process wherein we translate findings into an equity statement designed to guide the work of a global research coalition called the Quality Maternal and Newborn Care (QMNC) Alliance (https://www.qmnc.org). The QMNC collaborates to promote, generate, and translate knowledge that enables women and childbearing families to survive, thrive and transform, while unsettling current systems of epistemic injustice in global SRMNC research.
Author: Dr M Pentecost (King's College London)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Expanding early life: ethnographic notes from the HeLTI trial
Presenter
Dr M Pentecost (King's College London)
Authors
Dr M Pentecost (King's College London) - Primary Author
Early life interventions focused on pregnancy have produced a highly gendered discourse of responsibility for health outcomes. The expansion of 'the preconception period' as a target for intervention has the potential for the further gendered allocation of responsibility and the biomedicalisation of female bodies. In this paper I present ethnographic work with the Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative, the first multi-country intervention incorporating a preconception intervention for the prevention of childhood obesity and the promotion of maternal health and early childhood development. I consider how new knowledge in the life course sciences is produced, validated, and disseminated such that ‘preconception’ has been formalised as an object of public health intervention; examine the challenges and implications of such research; and discuss how this new scientific knowledge about human development is reshaping understandings of early life.
Author: Mr Blanca Garcia-Peral (University of Granada)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
The construction of the biogenetic link: Reproductive narratives around the use of donated genetic material in Spain
Presenter
Mr Blanca Garcia-Peral (University of Granada)
Authors
Mr Blanca Garcia-Peral (University of Granada) - Primary Author
In Spain, Law 14/2006, of May 26, on assisted human reproduction techniques, is defined as one of the most permissive in the European context, given that it allows access to most techniques, protecting the anonymity of gamete donors. According to the Statistical Report on Assisted Reproduction Techniques of the Spanish Fertility Society, in 2021, 165,453 in vitro fertilization cycles were performed. Regarding the use of donated genetic material, donated oocytes were used in 12,344 cycles and a total of 15,407 embryo transfers were with donated semen. Likewise, 16,225 artificial inseminations were performed with donated semen, compared to 17,593 artificial inseminations with the couple's semen.

The donation of gametes allows the formation of diverse families beyond infertility, biological limitations and the heteronuclear model. Likewise, the expansion of ART cannot be separated from a racist, sexist, classist and ableist logic. In the context of expansion of access as well as the Spanish private reproductive market, in my PhD I investigate the construction of the biological and genetic link in the experiences of users of Assisted Reproduction Techniques, approaching the decision-making around the use of donated gametes through an ethnographic-based methodology.

In this communication I will explore the experiences of some heterosexual, lesbian and bisexual participants considering: What are the central elements in the discourses of the biological and genetic link between (potential) users of donated gametes? How does sexual orientation and family structure affect the value assigned to gametes and their potential connection to offspring? How do feminist discourses affect these experiences?
Author: Dr Mali Collins (American University)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
“The Black Maternal Medical Debt Crisis in the African Diaspora"
Presenter
Dr Mali Collins (American University)
Authors
Dr Mali Collins (American University) - Primary Author
In the United States, Postpartum women experience higher levels of medical debt than other
women; poorer women and those with common chronic diseases may have an even higher
burden. This keeps Black women from being able to afford child care, pursue buying property, and other forms of quality of life. Across the diaspora, medical debt keeps Black women in jail; in Haiti, Nigeria, and other countries, Black women who just gave birth find themselves incarcerated disproportionately to their non-birthing counterparts, making up most of the hospital-prison population that keeps those incarcerated until they can pay such debt. This presentation will discuss the ways medical debt in the US and abroad contributes to Black maternal and infant health outcomes, and how debt is an unlikely binding characteristic of what it means to be Black and birthing in the diaspora. While providing a history of medical debt in the United States, this presentation also discusses the ways U.S. institutions own and operate hospitals, and a diasporic approach to how medical debt works as a punishment for Black reproduction globally.
Author: Prof Puleng Segalo (University of South Africa)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
1. Embracing the tree of life to (un)learn and transform current disrespectful birthing practices
Presenter
Prof Puleng Segalo (University of South Africa)
Authors
Prof Puleng Segalo (University of South Africa) - Primary Author
Dr V Mitchell (University of the Western Cape)
Mr J Marcus (University of Cape Town)
A core learning in the training curriculum for students in midwifery and medicine is to become competent in terms of knowledge and skills in birthing practices, taking responsibility for the healthy outcome of the neonate and birthing individual. A key component is the expulsion and examination of the placenta after the birth which is then usually disposed of with other medical waste. What is essentially missing and disrespected in terms of reproductive justice in this biomedical model of care is an appreciation of the value and agency of the placenta in many societies and cultures where the placenta takes up an important role in the ritualized celebrations associated with the birthing event. These indigenous rituals are embedded with deep respect and dignity that acknowledge the new life as a gift and a responsibility. This current disconnect where medical education mostly discounts cultural belief systems draws from a violent colonial legacy that viewed indigenous knowledge systems as backward and barbaric thus paying limited respect to traditional indigenous ways of being and becoming in the world. Our presentation presents an innovative art-making embroidery project by a community of women in Gauteng reflecting on their birthing experiences that resonate with students’ learning in South Africa’s public health system. We draw on our own teaching of nursing and medical students, women’s personal experiences and the prevailing literature around injustices in birthing facilities to put forward new insights into cultural placenta care that can value birthing persons’ situatedness in terms of their being, histories and cultures.


Author: Dr M Blell (Newcastle University)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Repropolitical Anxieties and Injustice in Finland’s Haunted Data “Goldmine”
Presenter
Dr R Homanen (Tampere University)
Authors
Dr M Blell (Newcastle University) - Primary Author
Dr R Homanen (Tampere University)
This paper explores how perceptions of fertility influence and determine fertility change by examining Finnish population databases. We fix our attention on to this Finland’s famed data “goldmine,” explaining how Finnish practices of large-scale personal data collection emerged. We show the ways these data collection regimes are both an archive of long-standing and continuing repropolitical anxieties and an essential method of Finland’s population control and reproduction landscape. In Finland, repropolitical anxieties have revolved around white middle-class Finns’ declining fertility rates and reproductive behavior for many decades. By following the data, our paper shows how several factors crucial to the making of these data, including residency and citizenship status, are obscured and hidden for political and ideological reasons. In contrast to the narrative of a data “goldmine,” we reveal data about the Finnish population to be haunted by the missing drivers of demographic change they obscure, particularly the work done to maintain myths of white homogeneity and the innocent, ethical Nordic Finnish society. We link this process to the work of several scholars including Avery Gordon and Laura Briggs and suggest that Finland’s data goldmine is haunted by the reproductive injustices and violence that it represents and reproduces. We also show that even the seemingly unrelated politics of data and data-centric technologies may indeed be reproductive politics, supporting Briggs’ (2018) argument about all politics becoming reproductive politics.
Author: Mrs EBM Birungi (Makerere University)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Social and Gender Norms in Contraception Decision-Making: Experiences of Women Living with HIV Using Sterilisation in Uganda
Presenter
Mrs EBM Birungi (Makerere University)
Authors
Mrs EBM Birungi (Makerere University) - Primary Author
This phenomenological study aimed to examine the social and gender norms women living with HIV navigate to decide on the use of sterilisation as a method of contraception. Experience suggests that developing sustainable, integrated family planning and HIV care programmes requires the incorporation of gender approaches. The study employed a qualitative approach to explore women’s contraception decision-making experiences. Data were collected using open-ended, in-depth interviews with fourteen sterilised women aged 15-49 years and nine key informant interviews with healthcare providers from two public health facilities in Tororo district in Uganda. The intersectionality theory guided the study to identify the interacting contexts that influence women’s experiences. Women’s narratives of their fertility decision-making experiences were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. The findings suggest that gender factors such as male partner involvement and communication between partners interacted with social categories such as gender and health status, and structural factors such as family planning policies and ethical guidelines acted as barriers and facilitators to sterilisation use. The study recommends that family planning programmes explore the modifiable social and gendered norms and power dynamics at multiple levels of society to promote autonomy and agency in contraception decision-making. The results from this study will inform the development of integrated HIV and family planning programmes that target behaviour change while transforming the environment to meet the needs of diverse categories of clients.

Author: Dr S Shaik (Rhodes University)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Empowering Women’s Reproductive Health: Exploring CBD as a Novel Therapy for PCOS and Endometriosis Management.
Presenter
Dr S Shaik (Rhodes University)
Authors
Dr S Shaik (Rhodes University) - Primary Author
Ms PS Norman (Rhodes University)
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Endometriosis are incurable chronic degenerative reproductive health diseases which affect 8 - 13% and 10% of girls and women of reproductive age, respectively, worldwide. Biomedical treatment for the management of symptoms includes invasive surgery, which has short-term effects, and long-term consumption of contraceptives. The side effects of long-term use of contraceptives include mood changes, migraines, increased blood pressure, and an increasing risk of cancer. In recent years, Cannabidiol (CBD) has seen an increase in popularity as an alternative medicine, most notably in women living with PCOS and/ or endometriosis. Cannabis and its derivatives have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries until cannabis was criminalised across the world in the early 1900s. Reproductive health has largely been determined by powerful and marginalising frameworks within biomedical health systems and global structures which are grounded in colonial frameworks and women are taking back their power in relation to their reproductive health through the use of alternative medicines like CBD. This paper presents findings from 11 semi-structured interviews with women living with PCOS and/ or endometriosis who have turned to CBD products in the management of their disease symptoms. Using an ethnomedical lens, the study found that since using CBD products participants have experienced a marked difference in their health and well-being, namely; improved mood and mood balance, drastic reduction in pain, stress, and anxiety, and improved quality of life. The paper highlights how ‘old’ medicines are becoming ‘new’ and subsequently reshaping practices of life-making, health and well-being
Author: Dr MV Mutambara (Jesuit refugee Services)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Exploring knowledge, perceptions and practices of menstruation among adolescent girls in a rural context in
Presenter
Dr MV Mutambara (Jesuit refugee Services)
Authors
Dr MV Mutambara (Jesuit refugee Services) - Primary Author
Research shows adolescent girls continue to be uninformed and unprepared for menstruation which has negative consequences. The qualitative study aims to assess the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of adolescent girls in rural Zimbabwe regarding menstruation and reproductive hygiene. These affect how menstrual hygiene and care are practised and influence the sexual and reproductive health decisions that women and girls make throughout their lives. Menstrual and reproductive hygiene is especially important for adolescent girls as poor hygiene during this period may be future negative consequences in terms of reproductive infections. The study utilized in-depth interviews and focus discussions with 14 girls between the ages of 10- 18 years. Findings revealed that although menstruation is a normal bodily process, it has cultural and religious connotations that affect girls' perceptions and adults' responses to their needs. The study recommends a rethink of practices that influence and affect menstrual hygiene towards knowledge practices that address knowledge disparities and tackle social and environmental influences that enable girls to manage menstruation with dignity. This is crucial because lack of knowledge and poor practices surrounding menstruation are key impediments not only to girls’ education but also to self-confidence and personal development. The study’s conclusions are important in preventing menstrual/reproductive infections and difficulties associated with poor menstrual hygiene by altering lifestyle and quality of life.
Author: Prof Peter Keogh (The Open University in Ireland)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
The Body Politic: Learning with Decolonial Reproductive Justice Activists in Northern Ireland
Presenter
Prof Peter Keogh (The Open University in Ireland)
Authors
Prof Peter Keogh (The Open University in Ireland) - Primary Author
Ms Naomi Connor (Alliance for Choice)
Northern Ireland’s contested status as a part of the UKs oldest and earliest colony has meant that sectarianism, economic deprivation, religious conservatism, and colonialism have impeded sexual and reproductive rights while recent gains are under attack from far right, religious and evangelical groups.

Defending reproductive justice in (post) conflict conditions in a region experiencing profound inequality has generated unique perspectives and capacities that link reproductive and sexual autonomy to social justice issues such as employment rights and precarity, immigration rights, race, ethnicity, coloniality and faith.

In 2023, we established The Body Politic Learning Hub (an online learning hub which prioritises political and activist knowledges in reproductive justice and rights) to document and share learning from these insights. This is unique collaboration between Alliance for Choice and The Open University that draws activists, advocates, communities and academics together to co-create online learning on sexual and reproductive justice while also developing novel approaches to knowledge co-creation and democratic, capacity-building.
Launching in Summer 2024 the hub focuses on the experiences of actors in the abortion struggles in Ireland and covers topics such Art Activism, Solidarity, Allyship and Bodily Autonomy, Self Care and Legislation and Rights. The hub will include a commissioned film on Art Activism produced jointly with The Array Collective and oral history interviews with reproductive justice actors.- In 2024 our aim is to move on to the area of Relationships and Sex Education developing our co-production approach further.

In this presentation, we will discuss the theoretical and political underpinnings of this project, our experiences of co-creating the Body Politic and a demonstration of the hub’s materials.
Author: Dr T Zgambo (Rhode University)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Colonialism and Evangelical Sexual Politics in Women’s Reproductive Health matters in Africa: The Zambian case
Presenter
Dr T Zgambo (Rhode University)
Authors
Dr T Zgambo (Rhode University) - Primary Author
Colonialism through evangelical sexual politics, and internationalisation/global policymaking continues to set the tone for the oppression of women’s reproductive health choices and services in Africa. The main objective was to examine the role of the religion connected to colonialism in relation to women’s reproductive health in Africa, tracing taken-for-granted “Western” reproductive health assumptions such as contraception options and choices that undermine African indigeneity. The study method is based on interviews conducted with selected non-state actors including faith-based organisations involved in women’s sexual reproductive health matters in Zambia, in addition to the existing literature and documentation on the subject. It was found that non-state actors’ advocacy centres on “Westernised” approaches to address women’s reproductive health issues while taking a Malthusian economic development and moral stance. Based on these findings, I argue that non-state actors have seemingly seized on colonial evangelical sexual politics characterised by “Westernised” human rights advocacy. African governments’ policy interventions are based on taken-for-granted colonial assumptions of evangelical sexual politics which have produced unfruitful outcomes for improving the quality of women’s reproductive health services. Thus, future research should focus on devising evidence-based policy interventions that incorporate the indigeneity of African women’s reproductive health experiences without imposing colonially rooted reproductive health policies and programme interventions.
Author: Ms AS Sahay (Geneva Graduate Institute)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Revisiting the Sterilisation Debate: Two-Child Game, the Good Life, and Everyday Sterilisation-Use in Northwest India
Presenter
Ms Arushi Sahay (Geneva Graduate Institute)
Authors
Ms AS Sahay (Geneva Graduate Institute) - Primary Author
“Sab do bachhon ka ‘khel’ hai”: It’s all about the two-child ‘game,’ a community healthworker said referring to a constellation of policies promoting the two-child norm within India’s family planning programme, in particular the added monetary incentive that health workers receive for ‘motivating’ women with two children to undergo female sterilisation. In this paper, I ethnographically explore how the (re)emergent advocacy for a two-child norm in India (Rao and Sarcar 2021; Rao 2022) plays out as a ‘game’ at a local family planning clinic and reorganises everyday sterilisation-use in northwest India.

At odds with the predominant understanding of sterilisation as curtailing, this two-child game reorganises a shared understanding amongst practitioners, healthworkers and women of sterilisation as enabling: a ‘good life,’ contained in the two-child nuclear family. The mother of two children - where at least one of them is a male child, becomes the ideal, rights-bearing sterilisation-client, making the responsible choice towards said good life. As and when this two-child norm stumbles, also stumble the meanings of rights, choices, good life, and of sterilisation itself, importantly entwined in hierarchies of caste, class and religion.

This paper revisits India’s longstanding sterilisation debate (Hartmann and Rao 2015; Wilson 2017; Unnithan 2022) by ethnographically detailing how seemingly old, discarded categories such as population control and the two-child norm, are not only re-emerging within contemporary forms of governance, but are also fashioning new kinds of meanings for historically contested reproductive interventions such as sterilisation.

References:

Hartmann, Betsy, and Mohan Rao. 2015. “India’s Population Programme: Obstacles and Opportunities.” Economic and Political Weekly 50 (44): 10–13.
Wilson, Kalpana. 2017. “In the Name of Reproductive Rights: Race, Neoliberalism and the Embodied Violence of Population Policies.” New Formations 91 (91): 50–68. https://doi.org/10.3898/NEWF:91.03.2017.
Rao, Mohan, and Aprajita Sarcar. 2021. “Curtailing Welfare, Weaponising Demography.” Economic and Political Weekly, Commentary, LVI (35): 23–26.
Rao, Mohan. 2022. “Iron in the Soul: Two-Child Norm in Population Policies Again.” Indian Journal of Gender Studies 29 (2): 229–35. https://doi.org/10.1177/09715215221082185.
Unnithan, Maya. 2022. “Conflicted Reproductive Governance: The Co-Existence of Rights-Based Approaches and Coercion in India’s Family Planning Policies.” In Anthropologies of Global Maternal and Reproductive Health, edited by Lauren J. Wallace, Margaret E. MacDonald, and Katerini T. Storeng, 117–36. Global Maternal and Child Health. Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-84514-8_7.


Author: Ms SWM Mafela (University of Cape Town)
Paper - Reproductive knowledges
Interrogating Global Parenting Initiatives: A Focus on Reproductive Knowledges
Presenter
Ms SWM Mafela (University of Cape Town)
Authors
Ms SWM Mafela (University of Cape Town) - Primary Author
Global parenting initiatives, guided by experts such as child psychologists and paediatricians, position themselves as arbiters of best practices in parenting, aiming to foster children's health and potential. However, critiques have surfaced regarding the limitations of such interventions. Despite claims of relying on robust evidence, some scholars argue that the knowledge base of initiatives like the Nurturing Care Framework is selective and biased. For instance, while emphasizing responsive caregiving and attachment theory, these frameworks overlook diverse child-rearing practices prevalent outside Western middle-class contexts. Anthropological research reveals intentional deviations from responsive caregiving among parents worldwide, challenging the assumption of its universality. This paper examines a spectrum of child-rearing practices identified through my master’s research and literature analysis, highlighting the complexity of parenting beyond narrow global blueprints. Ultimately, it underscores the need to critically assess the applicability of global parenting models in diverse cultural contexts, emphasizing the importance of localized knowledge and community-based research. Lastly, this paper will look at this increased governance and interest of reproduction in the realm of parenting.
Author: Dr GZ Zanini (Ca' Foscari University of Venice)
Showcase - Reproductive knowledges
Exploring reproductive standards, biases, and exceptions: a global perspective
Presenter
Dr GZ Zanini (University of Venice)
Authors
Dr GZ Zanini (Ca' Foscari University of Venice) - Primary Author
Dr CQ Quagliariello (EHESS)
Dr AM Majumdar (Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad )
Dr EP Prah (University of Johannesburg)
Dr JS Strong (LSE)
Dr AM Moore (The Guttmacher Institute)
Dr EC Coast (LSE)
Dr EF Freeman (LSE)
Dr AN Norris (The Ohio State University)
Panel Chairs: Chiara Quagliariello and Giulia Zanini

// We kindly request for this panel to be hybrid (in person and online), in order to give all panellists and co-authors the possibility to participate in the capacity they have.//

Panel's Abstract
Reproductive and maternal health outcomes differ for different populations around the globe, but they also emerge within national and regional contexts, negatively affecting certain people along the lines of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, class, and age.
In this panel we discuss how differential reproductive and maternal health outcomes are associated with social hierarchies, racialised imaginaries and other forms of exceptionality in comparison to medical expectations and standards. We ask what bodies and people make the basis for knowledge around reproductive and maternal health being generated and reproduced; how health professionals approach different populations in assisted reproduction, contraception, abortion, pregnancy, childbirth; how practices and understandings shape availability, provision and outcomes of care; and what kind of counternarratives, practices of community- or self-care, advocacy initiatives have emerged to support non-heterosexual, non-white, underage and/ or disable women and pregnant-people throughout maternal and reproductive healthcare in this context and beyond.

Papers’ abstracts
1.
Miracle Babies: The Quest for Children amongst the Post-Menopausal in India

Anindita Majumdar, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad [email protected]

In North India, children have new meaning and value through the intervention of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), like IVF. Here, traditionally, childlessness has never been perceived of as a ‘problem’, with policy makers and demographers championing birth control over ARTs. However, recently, infertility has come to mark the lifelong quest for children, ending with the very provocative intervention of ARTs to facilitate conception and birth amongst those who traditionally and biologically are past the reproductive age. In the quest for children, older couples over the age of 60 and 70 are seeking IVF to have children.
In dubbing these children ‘miracle babies’ their birth is identified as fantastical, while at the same time, positioning the desire of their older parents to have them as legitimate. Through ethnographic data collected in the North India, I seek to engage with the idea of how older infertile couples seek fulfillment through ARTs. Some of the questions I explore include: how is the quest for reproduction and children marked amongst those ageing? What is the particular value attached to children in a society identified with overpopulation? How do ARTs facilitate the conception and birth of children among this particular demographic? In the process, the aim of this paper is to explore how the particular interplay between childlessness and ARTs has important implications for aged care and demographic decline.

2.
Accounting for the Silences: Tracing the reproductive histories of previously enslaved women in the Cape 1900 to present

Efua Prah, University of Johannesburg, [email protected]

The main thesis explores the possible historical linkages and slippages in current reproductive health outcomes for women in South Africa. Undeniably, for South Africa, current reproductive and maternal health challenges are divided disproportionally along racial, income-level and geographic realities, where women of colour carry the burden of ill-health and an alarmingly frequent occurrence of death . The proposed research agenda explores the history of reproductive and maternal health in South Africa in three critical stages – the maternal reproductive records of enslaved women in the Cape during the early 19th century; and then more public scope of the racially fragmented response to the Syphilis Epidemic of the 30s and 40s and then finally; the more private worlds of the medical fraternity’s pedagogical practices regarding the education of infertility, fibroids and endometriosis amongst women of colour Black, Coloured and Indian. The aim is to provide a tapestry of the intersectional nature of race, income levels, age, history and geography in the shaping of current reproductive health responses, accounting for critical omissions in basic care. These intersections are important to recognize, especially if any meaningful social transformation is intended in South Africa's Health sector, considering the increasing rate of maternal complications during gestation, at birth and postnatally. The utility of such a project creates the possibility of developing a more comprehensive and targeted health systems approach to reproductive and maternal health care in South Africa. The focus exhumes the often silenced histories of women and will be the first to cover the legacies of enslavement and colonialism on maternal health in the Cape from a medical anthropological perspective. These histories are replete with exclusions and multiple oppressions that have had devastating and lasting impressions on the health and well-being of women in South Africa. Thus, an exploration of this kind of body of work would (re)situate the assumptive lens of current health outcomes for women of colour in South Africa. The import of this proposed research suggests that once we attend to the inherited inequalities within South Africa's health sector, we can gain substantial ground in reducing maternal and infant mortality rates.

3.
Racialized imaginaries at play in black maternal health experiences: a cross-national analysis Europe/United States

Chiara Quagliariello, Ehess, [email protected]

In Europe as in the United States, maternal morbidity and maternal mortality rates are higher among black people than other native and migrant populations.
In the first part of the paper, I will investigate the number of factors (social, economic, linguistic, legal, ethno-racial) leading to the contemporary crisis of black maternal health in the Global North (Chinyere et al. 2018). I will particularly explore maternal health disparities Afro-descent and African migrant populations live in Europe and the United States, stressing the similarities and differences in the two contexts.
In the second part of the paper, I will specifically focus on the link between racialised imaginaries and differential treatments black populations undergo during pregnancy and delivery. As I will underline, the contrasting racialized representations health professionals share about Black mothers – sometimes understood as women able of giving birth without any medical aid, thanks to the physical and cultural mastering of the birthing process, and other times considered as women particularly exposed to health risks and diseases, thus needing to be over-controlled through medical techniques – lead to the same international result: black mothering experiences are perceived as exceptional, and specific models of birth (de-medicalized and/or hyper-medicalized) are proposed/imposed to patients, without really taking into account their personal needs and individual wishes.

4.
Pregnancy Recognition Trajectories: A conceptual framework

Joe Strong, [email protected], LSE
Ann M. Moore, [email protected], The Guttmacher Institute
Ernestina Coast, [email protected], LSE
Emily Freeman, [email protected], LSE
Alison Norris, [email protected], The Ohio State University

Pregnancy recognition trajectories refer to the processes by which people come to recognise they are pregnant. Trajectories can be complex and can have a critical influence on a person’s pregnancy experiences and options for managing their pregnancies, including access to abortion care.
We present a novel conceptual framework for better understanding pregnancy recognition trajectories. Developed through an abductive screening of scientific literature, feedback from sexual and reproductive health experts and an iterative testing of the framework, the framework captures the known factors that can influence a person’s pregnancy recognition trajectory. The framework is made up of five interlinked but distinct domains: micro-, meso-, and macro-level factors, pregnancy conceptualisations, and the role of temporalities.
Micro-level factors refer to the individual- and interpersonal-level demographic, physiological, relational, and other characteristics that can influence a trajectory. Meso-level factors include culture, religion, healthcare access (eg: pharmacies, facilities, online) and the community. Macro-level factors incorporate the role of governance structures such as political, economic, and social systems in influencing trajectories.
These factors are nested within two broader domains: pregnancy conceptualisations and temporalities. The first considers how different social, cultural, and political understandings of a pregnancy might influence a trajectory. The second examines conceptualisations and influences of time on a trajectory.
The purpose of the framework is to elucidate the different influences on pregnancy recognition trajectories. In doing so, it points to areas of historically understudied domains within people’s trajectories which have the potential to improve people’s pregnancy experiences and capabilities to obtain their desired pregnancy outcomes.


5.
Techno-scientific concepts, criminal laws and abortion needs.

Giulia Zanini, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, [email protected]

Pregnancy dating, or gestational age (GA) assessment, is considered crucial process to design care for pregnant people, irrespective of the outcome of the pregnancy. GA can be assessed through a variety of methods which are known to hold different levels of reliability. It represents an instrumental step towards the provision of care, but it has also entered reproductive policies.
This paper analysis how GA, as a standardized measurement, has been translated into a legal instrument of reproductive discipline and how this has affected the way in which access to reproductive care is being governed through hierarchies of temporality. It especially addresses its use in European abortion laws, where GA limits to access abortion are common and where the notion of foetal viability is often mobilised to indicate a moment after which abortion becomes more difficult, or illegal.
In this paper the relationship between the concepts of GA, GA limits and viability will be analysed to explore how given technoscientific processes and concepts are transformed into standard and one-fit-all criteria for allowing access to care, discriminating between legal, illegal and criminal reproductive acts and prompting legal, moral and criminal judgments on the basis of a hegemonic temporality. Drawing on the analysis of healthcare protocols, reproductive laws and judicial documents, this paper will introduce the starting phase of an international and interdisciplinary project on GA assessment, which is going to roll out in the years to come.

Panel Discussant

Jess Rucell, [email protected], University of Witwatersrand

Dr. Jess Rucell is an applied Political Science scholar with over fifteen years of experience leading advocacy and research in the United States, Asia and Africa. Her research interest concerns power and how it manifests through States, gender, race, and reproduction. Her contributions have had impact on policy and service delivery. Jess's research focuses on equality and accountability, including: directing a study on the governance and political economy of women’s health to determine what drives obstetric violence; a mixed-methods examination of contraceptive autonomy; and leading a delegation on peacebuilding in Indonesia, and an investigation of humanitarian response in Myanmar and Thailand. She has authored several publications. Including being Co-Editor, Africa Voices special issue, journal Global Public Health, 2022; and lead author of the South African Commission for Gender Equality’s submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, 2019. Dr. Rucell is Expert Advisor, on Gender Justice, at The Centre for Applied Legal Studies and has several other commitments in the field of SRH and gender-based violence.
Author: Prof S Suh (Brandeis University, USA)
Showcase - Reproductive knowledges
Problematizing Reproduction in Africa: Critical Perspectives on Pregnancy, Birth, and Abortion From Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal
Presenter
Prof S Suh (Brandeis University, USA)
Authors
Prof S Suh (Brandeis University, USA) - Primary Author
Dr R Ouedraogo (African Population and Health Research Center, Kenya)
Dr S Drabo (Institute for Research on Development, France)
Prof T Ndoye (Cheikh Anta Diop University, Senegal)
Prof A Oni-Orisan (University of California-Davis, USA)
Dr E McLean (University of Bergen, Norway)
Problematizing Reproduction in Africa: Critical Perspectives on Pregnancy, Birth, and Abortion From Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal

Panel Description
Reproduction in Africa has long been pathologized as an intractable problem of overabundant fertility and undermedicalization. Drawing from ethnographic research across the continent, this panel disrupts reproductive knowledge grounded in biomedicine, demography, and public health. We situate reproductive practices, experiences, indicators, and outcomes within clinical, professional, technological, and political landscapes of care. For example, how is skilled birth attendance practiced, experienced, and transformed across multiple settings? How do hierarchies of class, gender, and profession regulate access to misoprostol? How do African health workers negotiate professional jurisdiction over pregnancy, birth, and abortion? We privilege Africans’ perspectives and experiences in rethinking the definition and measurement of reproductive care and well-being in Africa. We attend to local and national practices, politics, and histories to challenge persistent portrayals of Africa as a monolithic zone of reproductive crisis. Ultimately, we aim to imagine possibilities toward more just reproductive futures determined by and for Africans.

Panelist 1: Ramatou Ouédraogo, PhD, MA
Research Scientist
African Population and Health Research Center, Kenya

Is medical safety enough? Women’s and girls’ perspectives on abortion safety in Benin and Kenya

Safe abortion is an essential health service but until recently suffered from a narrow and top-down definition of safety. “Medical safety” was the guiding principle of safe abortion, and this referred to abortion carried out using the recommended methods, by a trained provider or in an environment that conforms to minimal medical standards, or both. However, evidence shows that girls and young women often prioritize “social safety” when seeking abortion care. In countries where abortion is legally restricted as Kenya and until recently in Benin, and socially reproved, the risk of prosecution and fear of stigma often forces girls, women and their partners to prioritize discreet (and often unsafe) methods that prevent them from being arrested and/or stigmatized as result of their abortion becoming publicly known. The latest WHO guidelines (2022) have a more holistic approach, moving beyond the focus on medical safety towards quality abortion care. This is a timely adaptation of the guidelines, with strong emphasis on the need for equity in access and an enabling environment, but will it change the game for poor girls and young women in countries with restrictive abortion laws or strong reprobation of the practice? Drawing from an ethnographic study conducted in Benin and Kenya on lived experiences of abortion among girls and young women, this communication will discuss women’s perspectives on “safety” when it comes to choosing a method for terminating their pregnancy, and discuss whether and how self-care using MA can match the safety concerns they have.

Panelist 2: Seydou Drabo, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, France

Understanding the complex use of modern contraceptives and misoprostol in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

This communication explores the intricate dynamics surrounding the utilization of reproductive health commodities, such as modern contraceptives and misoprostol, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The reproductive health governance in Burkina Faso, shaped by global health policies, defines the use of these commodities within specific frameworks. Contraception is primarily advocated for family planning, while the use of misoprostol is restricted to post-abortion care and the treatment of postpartum hemorrhage. However, in everyday practice, both women and healthcare professionals deviate from the established frameworks.

The objective of this presentation is to elucidate the nuanced meanings and uses of modern contraceptives and misoprostol in Ouagadougou, based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2015 and 2017. Data was collected through participant observation, in-depth interviews with women, healthcare workers, informal drug vendors, and a review of documents.

The study demonstrates that healthcare professionals and street drug vendors distribute modern contraceptives and misoprostol outside of formal, regulated channels. Concurrently, women devise new uses for these commodities, employing misoprostol as emergency contraception or for illegal abortions, and hormonal contraceptives for social, romantic, or aesthetic purposes. While reproductive health commodities empower women in making reproductive decisions, the negotiation for access exposes them to violence and engenders new inequalities.

In conclusion, this study shows the divergence between official policies and informal practices observed on the ground, highlighting the importance to consider nuanced realities, and diversified needs in reproductive health to foster empowerment and address inequalities.

Panelist 3: Tidiane Ndoye, PhD
Professor, Department of Sociology
Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal

Into women’s hands? Exploring availability and use of misoprostol in Burkina Faso and Senegal

Misoprostol has been heralded, in both popular media and by global/public health experts, as a pharmaceutical panacea to the persistent problem of maternal mortality related to unsafe abortion and postpartum hemorrhage in Africa. “Into Women’s Hands” is a collaborative ethnographic research project that explores the procurement, use, quantification, distribution, and availability of misoprostol in Burkina Faso and Senegal. By exploring how misoprostol comes to be available to some patients, consumers, health workers, health facilities, and not others, we aim to explore how misoprostol simultaneously opens and forecloses possibilities for achieving reproductive justice. Although in both countries misoprostol has been integrated into national pharmaceutical systems and in clinical protocols for obstetric care, we find that access to misoprostol is tightly controlled along the lines of gender, profession, age, and wealth. Misoprostol’s availability in public and private health facilities is highly constrained by concerns about the repurposing of this medication toward unauthorized abortion. At the same time, misoprostol circulates dynamically in maternity wards through task-shifting and informal supplies of misoprostol that are supported by patients’ out-of-pocket costs. Informal vendors, both in-person and online, facilitate access to misoprostol to those who can afford inflated prices. By investigating everyday practices related to misoprostol, we highlight the shortcomings of contemporary approaches to maternal mortality reduction in Africa that emphasize technologies as the solution to Africans’ reproductive problems, as well as increasingly neoliberal global health discourses and policies that render individuals, rather than health systems and policy makers, responsible for reproductive health outcomes.

Panelist 4: Adeola Oni-Orisan, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine
University of California-Davis, US

Secular Motherhood and the Criminalization of (Faith-Based) Care

The carceral tendency of obstetric care systems has been well-documented (Roberts, Sufrin, Davis, Bridges, van der Waal) and state concern in reproductive matters in the form of surveillance, discipline, and criminalization is not new, dating at least as far back as the earliest missionary and colonial encounters. Yet new forms of reproductive governance linked to international development aid apparatuses continue to emerge in the postcolonial setting in ways that call for renewed thinking around secularization, aid, and the costs of modernization in Africa. Based on ethnographic research in the predominantly Christian state of Ondo in southwestern Nigeria, this paper examines the postcolonial legacies of this intertwining of religion, regulation, and reproduction with a focus on the recent criminalization of “mission homes” or faith-based birthing centers. I argue that while Ondo adopts secular logics in endeavoring to make clear the distinction between religious and non-religious modes of care, the lived experience of Nigerian women defies these dichotomous logics. The state, thus, condemns birth practices that resist its secular mission while authorizing other modes of religious subjectivity, demonstrating how “secular motherhood” becomes more important than ensuring “safe motherhood.”

Panelist 5: Emily McLean, MD
PhD Research Fellow, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, and Bergen Center for Ethics and Priority Setting
University of Bergen, Norway

Health Workers and Ethical Dilemmas of Legal Abortion Services in Ethiopia

Background: In 2005 Ethiopia changed its abortion law to curb the high maternal mortality rate. Abortion is now legal if the woman´s pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, if her health is endangered, if the foetus has a serious deformity, if she suffers from a physical or mental deficiency or if she is under 18. Yet many women are still facing health risks from unsafe abortions.

Aim: The study explored the ethical challenges that health workers faced when delivering abortion care services in Ethiopia.

Methodology: A qualitative method was used, and data collected during fieldwork in Addis Ababa in 2016. Thirty in-depth interviews and three focus group discussions were conducted with forty-one health workers. Data was analyzed using concept analysis.

Results: The health workers described conflicting concerns and ambiguity towards how the abortion law was to be interpreted when faced with women requesting an abortion. They described an ethically challenging balance of their religious faith and values versus their professional obligations and genuine concern for the women's well being. This trade-off was particularly difficult when faced with women that did not meet the legal indication for an abortion. They often had to handle the ethical dilemmas and decision-making alone without guidance. Many faced stigma from fellow colleagues and kept their job a secret from family and friends.

Conclusion: Health workers providing abortion services in Ethiopia experienced ethical dilemmas in their effort to maneuver between the abortion law, their personal values and their genuine concern for women’s wellbeing.

Discussant: Siri Suh, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Brandeis University, US
Author: Ms TD Khumalo (Ububele Educational and Psychotherapy Trust)
Roundtable - Reproductive knowledges
Challenges Faced by Pregnant and New Mothers in Alexandra Township: Insights from an Ububele Home-Visiting Practitioner
Presenter
Ms TD Khumalo (Ububele Educational and Psychotherapy Trust)
Authors
Ms TD Khumalo (Ububele Educational and Psychotherapy Trust) - Primary Author
Re-worlding Reproduction Abstract

Title: Challenges Faced by Pregnant and New Mothers in Alexandra Township: Insights from an Ububele Home-Visiting Practitioner

This presentation offers insights into the challenges faced by an early childhood community practitioner providing services as part of an infant mental health focused non-profit organisation. The organisation, Ububele, operates in Alexandra Township, and provides psychosocial support services to mothers from pregnancy through the first few months of motherhood. The Home-Visiting Project specifically aims to support mothers and infants by enhancing the mother-infant relationship and promoting secure attachment through weekly home visits. Through home visits, trained practitioners engage with mothers, offering emotional support, guidance, and resources to promote healthy development and well-being for both mother and child. The project provides crucial support to mothers facing multiple stressors, such as trauma, and limited social support networks. However, these interventions bring to light various challenges and dilemmas in such service provision, particularly concerning cultural sensitivity, autonomy, and navigating system influences on family wellbeing. Thus, this presentation will examine the every day challenges faced by pregnant mothers and mothers of young infants, as well as by the practitioners who provide psychosocial services to them.

The presentation addresses the following questions:
• Rights, justice, ethics: Specifically, it speaks to how marginalised communities navigate and envision reproductive justice within their respective contexts.
• Race, nation, and governance: It examines cultural norms and practices, such as the sacred Umdlezane period and gender-specific caregiving roles, to shed light on the intersections of race, nation, and governance in shaping reproductive experiences.

By centring the voices and experiences of marginalised communities and the practitioners who serve them, this presentation contributes to broader discussions in reproductive studies, advocating for more inclusive and empowering approaches. Through reflection and dialogue, practitioners can navigate the complexities of reproductive health interventions with sensitivity, integrity, and a commitment to social justice and ethics.
Author: Dr R Simon-Kumar (The University of Auckland)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Crossing borders: Shaping reproductive justice discourses for ethnic minorities in Aotearoa New Zealand
Presenter
Dr R Simon-Kumar (The University of Auckland)
Authors
Dr R Simon-Kumar (The University of Auckland) - Primary Author
While there is widespread acknowledgement that concepts and practices of reproductive justice vary in the global south and the north, there is little analysis of how meanings of justice transform when they cross boundaries, and the implications for feminist theorising and activism.

In this paper, I explore this dilemma in the context of ethnic and migrant populations in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ). NZ’s ‘ethnic’ groups typically refer to peoples who have migrated from South and South East Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America in the last 40 years or so, and comprise around 20% of the population. This is a heterogenous and stratified group from diverse religious, national, ethno-linguistic, and economic backgrounds but who also hold a range of migrant, and often impermanent, residential statuses in the country; a complex diversity that is vividly reflected in the pluralistic configuration of identity politics of marginalization among this group.

As the nation becomes increasingly multi-ethnic, the state has been clear in its responses to some forms of harmful gendered cultural practices – such as FGM or forced marriages – but less so in others. Drawing on empirical data on sex selection and abortion practices among ethnic groups, this paper offers a critical appraisal of reproductive justice and morality against the backdrop of racialisation of minority groups in states that have Anglo-settler colonial and neoliberal histories.

Author: Dr E Millar ( La Trobe)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Womb possessiveness and stratified reproduction in Australia
Presenter
Dr E Millar ( La Trobe)
Authors
Dr E Millar ( La Trobe) - Primary Author


Aboriginal women are overrepresented in the group of people who find it most difficult to access abortion in Australia, which is telling of the way in which structures and systems of abortion provision produce and perpetuate disadvantage.

Aboriginal women are also over-represented in unborn child reports, issued under the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act. These reports classify unborn children at risk, and can result in coercive practices, including child removal upon birth. The use of these orders needs to be seen in a long history of Aboriginal child removal by the Australian state.

In this paper, I introduce these two case studies of, respectively, abortion and parenthood denied to theorise the racialisation of reproductive autonomy in Australia in relation to womb possessiveness. I argue that, if gender is a system that enables for the womb and person to be imagined as separable, race determines the degree of this separation. The claiming of possession of a person’s womb is an act of racialisation linked to the broader possessiveness of patriarchal white sovereignty. As Aileen Moreton-Robinson writes, ‘Who calls Australia home is inextricably connected to who has possession, and possession is jealously guarded by white Australians’ (p.7). Whiteness needs to be continually reproduced and womb possessiveness is one site for this reproduction.
Author: Ms N Abuelsoud (RESURJ)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Denied Pregnancies and population control in Egypt
Presenter
Ms N Abuelsoud (RESURJ)
Authors
Ms N Abuelsoud (RESURJ) - Primary Author
In Egypt, the family is a vessel of state population control interventions; to deliver the imperialist population assistance dictated by the United States and the European Union. International aid is the modern appearance of the same colonial supremacy. In Egypt, larger population numbers used to be tackled optimistically during times of war, as they meant more foot soldiers. Over the years, with technological advancements, “overpopulation” became the regime’s alliterated justification for everything falling short. Since 2013, the Egyptian state has been operating on the same panic machine of “overpopulation”, which was manufactured in the US in the 1960s. Currently, overpopulation discourse has become the pretext for austerity measures and administrative malfunction, and the reason for aggressive population control programming predominantly targeting poor women and people.

Over the past years, an anti-natalist discourse emerged in Egypt, socializing a blend of philosophical arguments with class antagonism and despair. “Childbearing is a selfish act, your child didn’t consent to be brought to this world.” is one of the common arguments made and has gained sizable virtual traction. Here “consent” is used loosely and perilously; by feeding the opposition panic machinery personalizing fetuses. Similar guilt is normalized in many feminist queer spaces towards expecting individuals by undermining their parental desires, even when explicitly voluntary, to be void and give into prescribed parenthood. Trivializing the need for companionship as a drive for parenthood, while discarding the motives of communities to thrive is another capitalist ordinance; that continues to individualize world experiences and limit the value of human relationships to transactional and commodified interactions. Childbearing and parenthood then become solely approved for families and individuals who have the financial means to pursue them. This is a collective buy into neoliberal economic mandates that have been working hard for decades to assign households with a village’s workload.

Recently, the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade adjusted the eligibility criteria for ration cards, capping it at four individuals per family, and denying the third child access to subsidized services and commodities. Yet again, this deterrent to childbirth deprives poor families of basic rights and services; like the National Project for Development of the Egyptian Family program, it shifts responsibility for any “extra child” from the government to poor families. For them, this pregnancy is denied, whether it is a result of contraceptive failure, illegal and inaccessible abortion services, or a reproductive decision. Rich families are allowed to have as many children as they desire and are not punished for contributing to the “population problem.” It is only poor women and their families who must pay the price for denied pregnancies and structural barriers. They are punished for not sticking to a top-down plan, even when it goes against their fertility intentions

State population control programming emerged in 2018 with a presidential campaign titled "Two is Enough". Despite repeated statements that such a slogan was intended to be encouraging, the following months showed a political position on who is worthy of family making. In 2021, a brief parliamentary discussion tackled marriageability criteria which excluded HIV-positive individuals, people living with depression, and diabetes. That was short-lived, but lengthy enough to grasp the eugenist intent of the current Egyptian regime.

While population policies in Egypt are envisioned and executed by our people, they are motivated by the International Monetary Fund's insistence on lowering fertility rates in Egypt. International Financial Institutions are one of the neocolonial arms and key players in the neoliberal project. In this paper, the author imagines a Third World pact that puts people first through reviving a mission to delink the South from the North in our pursuit of reproductive justice.
Author: Dr Nelson Muparamoto (University of Pretoria)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Queering Reproduction in Zimbabwe: Longing and making babies among queer persons in Harare and Bulawayo
Presenter
Dr Nelson Muparamoto (University of Pretoria)
Authors
Dr Nelson Muparamoto (University of Pretoria) - Primary Author
Queering Reproduction in Zimbabwe: Longing and making babies among queer persons in Harare and Bulawayo.

Nelson Muparamoto,
Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship, University of Pretoria & Zimbabwe Technical Assistance, Training & Education Center for Health

Over the years, scholarship, as well as western and local media, have mediated a narrative of a thoroughly homophobic Zimbabwe. Indeed, the post-colonial history of Zimbabwe is marked by numerous attempts to extirpate LGBT individuals from the citizenry. Popular narratives have depicted a struggling LGBT community characterised by, precarity, vulnerability, and marginalisation, not at least stemming from politicisation of homosexuality. While acknowledging vulnerability and precarity, this paper goes beyond that narrative and focuses on stories of hope among same-sex attracted individuals. While the Zimbabwean constitution explicitly prohibits marriage between same-sex persons, the paper explores how LGBT individuals navigate their desire to start families, make or not make babies, and how they approach reproduction. Centrally, the paper seeks to understand the desires and initiatives adopted by same-sex attracted persons to meet their needs for relatedness through founding families and or parenthood establishment. The paper adopts the photovoice method with 12 self-identifying lesbian, gender non-conforming, and queer women aged 18 years and above in Harare and Bulawayo living together as committed and intimate partners. Photovoice provided a powerful medium for the participants to counteract dominant narratives as they creatively reimagined their biology and reproduction, sometimes leading to marriage, parenthood, and kinship establishment. The participants used images to express their experiences on family building and reproduction, challenging traditional ideas.

Author: Ms AD Alexandra Desy (AFIN - UAB)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
"I felt like I was doing something illegal.” French women's journey to solo motherhood.
Presenter
Ms AD Alexandra Desy (AFIN - UAB)
Authors
Ms AD Alexandra Desy (AFIN - UAB) - Primary Author
Mrs DM Diana Marre (AFIN - UAB)
Prior to the recent revision of the Bioethics Law in 2022, France maintained one of the most restrictive legislative frameworks in Europe concerning medically assisted reproduction access. Viewed as a medical solution for a medical problem, fertility treatments were exclusively offered to heterosexual couples with women younger than 43 years old. This approach excluded lesbian couples, women experiencing infertility due to aging, and single women. Despite France's aggressive fertility policies aimed at boosting population growth, not every type of family was, or is, encouraged to have children.

Even with the recent expansion of treatment availability to lesbian couples and single women, challenges remain, and the demand continues to strain the French healthcare system. For French women pursuing the path of single motherhood, seeking fertility services abroad often becomes the only viable option. Drawing from seven years of field research and comprehensive interviews at Spanish fertility clinics - the prime destination for fertility services in Europe - this paper will delve into their experiences through an anthropological lens. Contrary to the notion of reproductive 'tourism' with its leisure implications, their travels are typically filled with obstacles. They must navigate the medical systems of both countries, placing them in a highly vulnerable position amid a societal backdrop where single motherhood is still stigmatized. Labels like ‘selfish’, ‘career-driven’; ‘victim’, ‘precarious’ misrepresent the actual experiences of these women who choose single motherhood, confronting and managing ongoing societal vulnerabilities.
Author: Dr Dharashree Das (University of Lethbridge)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Envisioning Reproductive Rights, Justice, and Ethics: Low-income Muslim Women Evading Invasive Contraceptives in Delhi, India
Presenter
Dr Dharashree Das (University of Lethbridge)
Authors
Dr Dharashree Das (University of Lethbridge) - Primary Author
Envisioning Reproductive Rights, Justice, and Ethics: Low-income Muslim Women Evading Invasive Contraceptives in Delhi, India

The navigation of family-planning programs is contingent upon a host of factors including intra-household power dynamics, the social and cultural milieu, and reliable and effective technology of birth control. The liberal emphasis on rights and choices opened up a space for non-coercive decision making in theory. However, mostly the marginalized, and especially the marginalized minority who constitute low-income Muslim women navigate coercive and target-oriented state family-planning institutions on an everyday basis. Drawing on fourteen months of fieldwork in a low-income neighborhood in Delhi, India, this paper will particularly attend to what women conceptualize as ‘wise planning’ (samajhdari ki yojana) in the context of accusations that they are irresponsible and non-compliant when it comes to adopting contraceptive technologies. Through case illustrations, I examine how low-income Muslim women negotiate and evade the prescription of intra-uterine devices (IUDs). In their narratives, these women emphasize that invasive contraceptives are the dominant birth control measure enshrined in the population policies in India. In other words, the insistence on the part of health care providers on adopting invasive contraceptives challenges the policy prescription of non-coercive measures on the ground. I illustrate that the two-child norm is the reigning ideology on the part of the providers despite the liberal emphasis on choices and rights. In this context, I show how women respond to this reigning ideology and navigate different pathways to subvert the state’s fixation on invasive contraceptives to implement a two-child norm.

Author: Prof Z Luna (Washington University in St Louis)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Reproductive Justice for Whom? : Theory and Tension in Movement Institutionalization
Presenter
Prof Z Luna (Washington University in St Louis)
Authors
Prof Z Luna (Washington University in St Louis) - Primary Author
In 1994, late one night in a Chicago, IL, USA hotel room a group of Black women coined the phrase “reproductive justice” (Silliman et al 2004, Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice 2005, Luna 2020) The concept signaled a paradigm shift: a vision to move beyond the abortion debate and “choice” language to address how race, class, citizenship, disability, sexuality, among other identities and structural positions, affected people rights to have children (e.g. as evidenced by histories of forced sterilization) and rights to parent children (e.g. for incarcerated people) (Ross et al 2001, Nelson 2003, Luna 2009, Price 2010 ) RJ is a phrase, movement, theory and praxis (Luna and Luker 2013)
Now, various organizations use the phrase, universities in the US have started RJ research centers including Yale, Michigan, UC Berkeley, NYU and UC Irvine, one major health department emphasizes RJ (NYC) and the phrase has appeared in Supreme Court briefs and popular culture. Globally convenings abound and the SRH framework is being supplanted by SRJ framework (e.g. Nairobi Summit on ICPD25), which places reproductive justice (back) into the global areas where many early founders of the US movement had originally found inspiration.

. This paper explores three primary questions:
• How have different ideas of responsibility shaped the integration of reproductive justice into multiple institutions?
• What are the implications of theories developed by US women of color being integrated in dominant social institutions?
• What roles do academics play in shaping activist ideas and practices?
The paper draws on observation, archival document analysis , and movement mapping.
Thus, it offers a more complex story than a story of co-optation, which activists have long lamented (Luna 2011). It includes consideration of inter-ethnic struggles between communities of color and who gets to claim RJ (Luna 2016, Ross et al. 2017, Luna 2020, Zavella 2020). Further, it considers how as more academics identify their work as RJ scholarship, offer classes under this title, and claim space they (we) also shape the movement in sometimes unintended ways.




Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice. 2005. “A New Vision for Advancing Our Movement for Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Justice.” http://reproductivejustice.org/assets/docs/ACRJ-A-New-Vision.pdf.

Luna, Zakiya T. 2009. “From Rights to Justice: Women of Color Changing the Face of US Reproductive Rights Organizing.” Societies without Borders: Human Rights and the Social Sciences 4 (3): 343–64.,

.Luna, Zakiya, and Kristin Luker. 2013. “Reproductive Justice.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 9 (1): 327–52. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-102612-134037.

Luna, Zakiya T. 2011. “‘The Phrase of the Day’: Examining Contexts and Co-Optation of Reproductive Justice Activism in the Women’s Movement.” In Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Volume 32), edited by Anna Christine Snyder and Stephanie Phetsamay Stobbie, 32:219–46. United Kingdom: Emerald.

Luna, Zakiya. 2016. “‘Truly a Women of Color Organization’ Negotiating Sameness and Difference in Pursuit of Intersectionality.” Gender & Society 30 (5): 769–90.

Nelson, Jennifer. 2003. Women of Color and the Reproductive Rights Movement. New York: New York University Press;

Price, Kimala. 2010. “What Is Reproductive Justice?: How Women of Color Activists Are Redefining the Pro-Choice Paradigm.” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 10 (2): 42–65

Silliman, Jael M., Marlene Gerber Fried, Loretta Ross, and Elena R. Gutierrez. 2004. Undivided Rights?€?: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice. Cambridge, Massachusetts?€?: South End Press.


Zavella, Patricia. 2020. The Movement for Reproductive Justice: Empowering Women of Color through Social Activism. NYU Press.
Author: Dr M. Magwentshu (Ipas Africa Southern Region)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Stigma Towards Women Requesting Abortion and Association with Health Facility Staff Facilitation and Obstruction of Abortion Care in South Africa’
Presenter
Dr M. Magwentshu (Ipas Africa Southern Region)
Authors
Dr M. Magwentshu (Ipas Africa Southern Region) - Primary Author
Abstract: ‘Stigma Towards Women Requesting Abortion and Association with Health Facility Staff Facilitation and Obstruction of Abortion Care in South Africa’

A study was conducted on stigma towards women requesting abortion and association with health facility staff facilitation and obstruction of abortion care in South Africa. (Jim A, Magwentshu M, Menzel J, Küng SA, August S-A, van Rooyen J, Chingwende R and Pearson E (2023). Health systems note that facility-based stigma towards abortion is one of the drivers baring access to safe legal abortion leading to maternal morbidity and mortality, which undermines women’s reproductive rights and health ethics. Therefore, to ascertain strategies for encouraging health systems to respect women’s rights to choose, and to reduce abortion stigma in facilities, we collected baseline data. This was done through a cluster-randomized controlled trial of 279 clinical and non-clinical staff in 16 health facilities in Gauteng and Limpopo province, to determine what strategies to provide a safe environment for women to access safe abortion. Stigmatizing attitudes, beliefs, and actions towards women who seek abortion is crucially important in shaping how clinical and non-clinical staff in South Africa feel about their participation in abortion care and, ultimately, whether they obstruct this care. Facility staff hold great power in determining whose abortions are facilitated and whose are obstructed, resulting in stigma and discrimination being openly perpetuated. We then provide strategies to reduce stigma towards women seeking abortion, and particularly negative stereotyping, among all health facility staff ensuring equitable and non-discriminatory access to abortion for all.
Author: Mr ()
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
The things we still do not talk about: A feminist-anthropological approach to “re-worlding” menstruation and menstrual wellbeing as a reproductive justice issue
Presenter
Mr ()
Authors
Mr () - Primary Author
Menstrual discomforts, in the form of cramping, nausea, headaches, fatigue and heavy bleeding affect millions, including 80% of adolescents, globally, and have been shown to be debilitating for many. These menstrual discomforts can intensify for those who are (peri)menopausal—again with debilitating effects. Surprisingly, despite exerting such enormous physical and mental toll, menstruation remains largely invisible in dominant public/global health discourses and in academia. Even feminist scholars in both the global south and global north seem silent on this issue. More recently, a movement to tackle “period poverty” by making menstruation products more easily accessible has emerged. However, there is very little focus on menstrual wellbeing, writ large. Instead, menstrual discomforts and (peri)menopause symptoms remain medicalized—often inadequately—and individualized, with menstruators typically left to manage their recurrent symptoms on their own. In my presentation, I will reflect on this normalization of invisibility and interrogate why menstrual wellbeing continues to be marginal in academia. What would re-worlding menstrual wellbeing in academia entail? Two data sources will inform my presentation: findings from a scoping review that will help characterize the state of knowledge on this topic, globally, and findings from a pilot study on menstrual wellbeing that I am currently conducting on a college campus in the US with 12 students, who include racial and gender minorities. We are collecting narratives on menstrual experiences and also supplying students with menstrual discs to try out. Menstrual discs are the newest technology on the menstrual products marketplace, are eco-friendly and could make menstrual management less onerous.
Author: Mr A Restrepo Sanchez (University of Iowa)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Sex Work, Migration, and Reproductive (In)Justice in Medellín, Colombia
Presenter
Mr A Restrepo Sanchez (University of Iowa)
Authors
Mr A Restrepo Sanchez (University of Iowa) - Primary Author
Since 2010, Venezuela has been engulfed in a deepening political and economic crisis, impacting its healthcare system and forcing many to seek refuge in neighboring countries like Colombia. In Medellín, a key receptor city for migrants, Venezuelan women who engage in survival sex work have experienced significant challenges accessing reproductive justice and rights. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, this paper explores the intersection of migration, sex work, and reproductive health through the lens of reproductive justice.

Venezuelan sex workers in Medellín often face coercion to engage in unsafe sex, risking unintended pregnancies and STIs. Economic barriers and “irregular migration status” hinder their capacity to access contraceptives and abortion, affecting their right not to have a child. Their right to have a child is marred by stigma, with health professionals pushing for sterilization or long-term contraceptives without informed consent. Their right to parent in safe environments is compromised by constant violence and xenophobic discrimination, leading to fear of accessing healthcare and welfare services. Finally, their right to maintain personal bodily autonomy and sexual pleasure is denied, as sex work remains stigmatized and excluded from labor regulations and the reproductive justice discourse in general.

This paper argues for a broader understanding of reproductive justice that includes sex workers’ voices, giving special attention to their capacity for organization, resistance, and envisioning better futures. To effectively respond to the enduring challenges migrant sex workers face in accessing reproductive justice and rights, I advocate for a stronger collaboration between grassroots movements, authorities, academics, and NGOs.
Author: Mrs NN Mthembu (University of KwaZulu-Natal)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
From access to basic reproductive health rights to access to Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs): Will same-sex couples ever achieve reproductive justice in forming families or will we keep shifting the goal post?
Presenter
Mrs NN Mthembu (University of KwaZulu-Natal)
Authors
Mrs NN Mthembu (University of KwaZulu-Natal) - Primary Author
Reproductive rights have been given a complete overhaul in meaning and context with the proliferation of scientific and technological innovations that enable humans to overcome existing limitations in reproductive biological processes. These include assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) that offer persons hindered from having children due to medical or social reasons the opportunity to realize their dream of building a family. Despite this proliferation in scientific and technological innovations in the reproductive space, same-sex couples, sadly, still do not enjoy the basic reproductive health rights and not to mention the access to the advances in reproductive medicine. Authors advocating for access to ARTs mostly base their arguments on the heavy burden of childlessness on men and women, going as far as quoting the social deaths and agony that arise from childlessness — this includes violence, disinheritance, marital instability and other forms of social suffering. The shortfall of this argument is that it frames infertility in a physiological sense, only exploring the anguish of childlessness from a ‘heteronormative’ point of view and not from a ‘homonormative’ perspective. On this premise, this paper explores the evolution of the right to reproductive rights for same sex couples till the current era of ARTs. It examines the shortcomings and possible advocacy or policy reform opportunities to increase access to Assisted Reproductive Technologies for same-sex couples.
Author: Dr H.G Gibson (Autonomous University of Barcelona)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Cripping cultural imageries: Spanish women with intellectual disabilities’ experiences of reproductive control, choice and justice.
Presenter
Dr H.G Gibson (Autonomous University of Barcelona)
Authors
Dr H.G Gibson (Autonomous University of Barcelona) - Primary Author
In 2020, Spain abolished the forced sterilisation of Spanish women with disabilities, marking a potential new era of disability reproductive justice and bringing the medical and familial reproductive control of this group to the forefront of socio-political awareness. Women with intellectual disabilities [WID] were particularly targeted under the auspices guise of medical care, with forced sterilisation part of a larger pattern of denial of reproductive rights. At the same time, Spain is a European hub for pre-implantation genetic testing, with the Spanish fertility industry built on ableist rhetoric underpinned by a eugenic impulse for a disability-free future, reinforcing the idea that any life worth living entails the absence of impairment. The idea that WID (want to) become mothers challenges this and pervasive cultural portrayals of them as incapable and unfit for parenthood, and in need of protection from a reproductive life. Within this backdrop, this paper explores Spanish women with intellectual disabilities’ diverse experiences of reproductive control and choice to understand how they navigate the tensions that arise between this new ‘promissory note of inclusion’ (Ginsburg and Rapp 2020) and enduring cultural imagery built to exclude them as (potential) mothers. By provoking and reimagining reproductive futures that include women with intellectual disabilities, this ethnographic snapshot ultimately contributes a crip vision of reproductive justice to the broader reproductive justice research and scholarship.
Author: Prof DW Thaldar (UKZN)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Redefining Parenthood: Legal Challenges and Opportunities in Recognizing Co-Parenting in South Africa
Presenter
Prof DW Thaldar (UKZN)
Authors
Prof DW Thaldar (UKZN) - Primary Author
This paper examines the legal recognition of co-parenting arrangements in South Africa, focusing on cases involving known sperm donors. Through the lens of the case AV v DC, it navigates the complexities of parental rights, responsibilities, and the child’s best interests within the framework of the Children’s Act and relevant judicial decisions. It challenges the automatic extension of parental rights to sperm donors, advocating for a legal distinction between ‘biological father’ and ‘parent’ to protect families formed through sperm donation from potential legal and social disruptions.

The core of the analysis is the potential for co-parenting agreements to be recognized as permanent life partnerships, akin to romantic relationships, in legal terms. This recognition is argued on the basis of evolving societal norms and recent legal precedents, underlining the need for law to evolve alongside changing family structures.

The paper advocates for a legal framework that recognizes and accommodates the nuances of co-parenting arrangements, emphasizing that such recognition should serve the best interests of the child. It proposes a pathway for known sperm donors within co-parenting agreements to acquire parental rights and responsibilities, aligned with constitutional values of dignity, equality, and the paramountcy of the child’s best interests. This approach calls for a re-evaluation of existing legal interpretations, aiming to reflect the realities of contemporary co-parenting families accurately.
Author: Ms T Robbertse (Ibis Reproductive Health)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Examining unplanned pregnancy and abortion among young girls aged 12-17 in Gauteng, South Africa
Presenter
Ms T Robbertse (Ibis Reproductive Health)
Authors
Ms T Robbertse (Ibis Reproductive Health) - Primary Author
Ms J Methazia (Ibis Reproductive Health)
Background
Despite abortion being legal in South Africa, research has shown that people of reproductive age face barriers to accessing these services, most notably adolescent girls and young women (AGYW).

Methods
We conducted a mixed-method study in Gauteng to assess minors’ knowledge and experiences with sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion, in the public sector. Survey data was collected in January 2023 with 236 minors aged 12-17 and assigned-female-at-birth. In-depth interviews were conducted with ten participants who reported an unplanned pregnancy and/or abortion during the survey. We performed bivariable analysis to determine associations between age and factor variables. Qualitative data was analysed using thematic analysis to identify patterns in the data.

Results
Thirty-four percent of participants reported being sexually active. Of these, 22% (n=17) had experienced an unplanned pregnancy, and five reported having an abortion. We observed associations between age and whether participants had sex before; had an unplanned pregnancy; and their pregnancy outcome. Many participants (33.1%) knew someone who terminated a pregnancy. Participants who had an unsafe abortion learnt where to access unsafe providers from friends or posters on the street. Reasons why participants resorted to unsafe abortions included increased convenience, confidentiality, perceptions that parental consent is required for safe abortion, and stigma they encounter at healthcare facilities.

Conclusion
Successful implementation of the South African abortion law and innovative approaches to healthcare are necessary to ensure that safe abortion services are truly accessible to AGYW, in order to eliminate cases of unsafe abortions and consequently save lives.
Author: Ms R Hazarilall (University of KwaZulu-Natal)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
The Forgotten Parent: The Legal Implications of Assisted Conception and Life Partnerships in South Africa
Presenter
Ms R Hazarilall (University of KwaZulu-Natal)
Authors
Ms R Hazarilall (University of KwaZulu-Natal) - Primary Author
Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) have reconstructed the way we view the traditional nuclear family. Parenthood is no longer tethered to heterosexual marital relationships, biological ties, and sexual intercourse. Instead, ARTs have shifted the focus towards procreative freedom, parental intent, and the parent-child relationship. However, the present legal regime continues to apply principles that tend to favour traditional heteronormative family forms.

In particular, section 40 of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 bestows automatic parental responsibilities and rights to the recipient mother and her spouse once a donor-conceived child is born. This emphasis on marital relationships neglects to legally recognise the parentage of the recipient mother's life partner. As a result, the constitutionality of section 40 was challenged by an unmarried lesbian couple in the case of VJV v Minister of Social Development. They argued that the provision unfairly discriminated against same-sex life partners on the grounds of marital status and sexual orientation.

Holding in favour of the couple, the landmark court judgment underscores the significance of safeguarding the right to equality, dignity, and the best interests of the child in light of the emerging family forms resulting from ARTs. Therefore, this paper shall examine the facts of the case and provide a critical analysis of the arguments made by the parties involved, as well as the court's final ruling. In doing so, this paper aims to explore the implications assisted conception and life partnerships have on the existing South African family law framework.
Author: Ms KO Odada (University of Pretoria)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
A LEGAL ANSWER TO A SOCIO-POLITICAL QUESTION? LIMITATIONS OF THE SINGLE USE OF COURTS AS AVENUES FOR REDRESSING OBSTETRIC VIOLENCE IN KENYA
Presenter
Ms KO Odada (University of Pretoria)
Authors
Ms KO Odada (University of Pretoria) - Primary Author
A LEGAL ANSWER TO A SOCIO-POLITICAL QUESTION? LIMITATIONS OF THE SINGLE USE OF COURTS AS AVENUES FOR REDRESSING OBSTETRIC VIOLENCE IN KENYA

Kerigo Odada LLD candidate University of Pretoria

The use of courts as a means of seeking justice for obstetric violence experienced during facility-based childbirth in Kenya is on the rise. With increased advocacy and research on obstetric violence and respectful maternity care, more people are opting for the courts as avenues for seeking justice. Litigating obstetric violence has emerged as an appealing avenue for seeking redress and holding relevant parties accountable; however, doubts exist on whether this route can contribute to reproductive justice. The courts, by adjudicating socio-economic rights issues, have been challenged for usurping the role of the lawmakers and government. Moreover, because of the increasing number of people opting for litigation, human rights lawyers and advocates are also being criticised for creating a hostile working environment for medical service providers. This paper, using reproductive justice as its theoretical grounding, shall discuss the limitations of the single use of the courts to address obstetric violence in Kenya. This paper endeavours to unveil how obstetric violence, as a gendered socio-political phenomenon, is inextricably linked to overarching socio-political policies and practices and, therefore, cannot be addressed strictly through litigation. By adopting a reproductive justice framework, this paper seeks to draw attention to the role of systemic inequality in shaping people's reproductive experiences and outcomes, which ultimately demands a multisectoral approach to address these human rights violations.
Author: Dr U Du Plessis (Rhodes University)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Supportability as a tool for identifying reproductive injustices in South Africa
Presenter
Dr U Du Plessis (Rhodes University)
Authors
Dr U Du Plessis (Rhodes University) - Primary Author
In the mid-1990s, Black American feminist activists and scholars developed the reproductive justice framework that allows for a more structural and intersectional analysis that pushes reproductive freedom beyond the question of rights and choice, turning it into a matter of social justice. In the last few years, the National Planning Unit has been introducing the concept of sexual and reproductive justice (SRJ) to South Africa through a series of seminars and a national conference. The aim is to create the National SRJ Strategy that would streamline SRJ as the framework under which all sexual and reproductive health and rights work is conducted in the country. This Strategy will be tabled to Cabinet in March 2024. The Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction operationalised Catriona Macleod’s supportability framework by creating a tool that can surface a multi-faceted picture of the factors that enable or hinder positive pregnancy outcomes. This framework allows for analysing the intersection of pregnant women’s physical and mental health, cognitions, emotions, and behaviour with micro-level interactive spaces (e.g., partners, family, healthcare service providers) and macro-level issues (e.g., policy, cultural patterns). ‘Supportability’ is conceptualised as a woman’s capacity to carry a pregnancy in a manner that has positive health and welfare outcomes for women and is intricately interweaved with, and can never be separated from, ‘support’. Data collected using the PSRK can be used by government to inform policies and interventions in relation to pregnancy. This paper will introduce the concept of supportability, the Pregnancy Supportability Research Kit (PSRK) and its operationalisation and discuss its usefulness in measuring and identifying reproductive injustices during pregnancy.
Author: Dr T Sudenkaarne (Tampere University)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Ghosts in the Machine: Black Feminist and Queer Critiques of Reproductive Justice in a Nordic Welfare State
Presenter
Dr T Sudenkaarne (Tampere University)
Authors
Dr T Sudenkaarne (Tampere University) - Primary Author
Dr M Blell (Newcastle University )
In this presentation based on a co-authored article, we discuss reproductive justice in the context of Finland, a Nordic welfare state often considered having achieved exceptionally high ethical standards in reproductive rights and justice. We analyze this claim against an ethical sense-making system that keeps reproducing injustice due to faulty moral settings we call the Machine. Every now and then, however, this reproduction is interrupted by ghosts: the problems, past and present, of marginalised, racialised, and/or otherwise non-normative people whose presences provoke specific Finnish hauntings, seething presences of reproductive injustice that suggest something is to be done.

We offer an interdisciplinary, ethical analysis to suggest that what is required to resolve such hauntings is moral vigilance and care for a consistent reproductive justice orientation in a global solidarity framework. Specifically in Finland, it requires the willingness to disavow the imperative to protect Finnish whiteness and active and meaningful solidarity across differences. Building on Black feminist and queer thought, we urge queer white people who may be tempted to become enfolded by homonationalism to take a more encompassing view of reproductive justice for a more sustainable welfare state ethic and moreover, to transformative reproductive justice futures.


Author: Dr Aideen O Shaughnessy (University of Lincoln)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
On the Embodied Experience of Anti-Abortion Laws and Policies: the Uneven Burden of ‘Abortion Work’
Presenter
Dr Aideen O Shaughnessy (University of Lincoln)
Authors
Dr Aideen O Shaughnessy (University of Lincoln) - Primary Author
This article explores how reproductive laws and policies are experienced by women and gestating people at the level of the affected body. It theorizes that laws which criminalise or obstruct access to abortion mould and shape the embodied subjectivities of gestating individuals in various coercive and contextually specific ways. This research proposes the concept of ‘abortion work’ to exemplify the additional forms of reproductive labour imposed on women and gestating people when they are forced to anticipate, plan for, and access clandestine abortions. I argue that the criminalisation or obstruction of abortion access produces (with)in the gestating body a particular spatial, affective, and temporal orientation of displacement, fear, and anticipation, which operate cumulatively as an assemblage of disciplinary forces. This research is based on the analysis of the embodied experiences of abortion activists in Ireland living under the 8th amendment – the country’s constitutional abortion ban (1983-2018). It offers a novel interpretation of Irish abortion politics, explaining how, women and gestating people have historically occupied a space of ‘non-belonging’, being always already ‘oriented’ towards England (the location where Irish abortion-seekers have traditionally travelled to in search of care). Finally, it explores how, through the quotidian experience of doing ‘abortion work’, women and gestating people in Ireland come to experience their bodies ‘out of space and time’ as a site of anticipation, vulnerability, and insurgent agency at the same time.
Author: Dr J.Y. Lee (University of Copenhagen)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Discrimination and Uterus Transplantation (UTx)
Presenter
Dr J.Y. Lee (University of Copenhagen)
Authors
Dr J.Y. Lee (University of Copenhagen) - Primary Author
Debates about discrimination in the context of organ donation largely focuses on potential discrimination of the organ recipient, for example due to directed rather than non-directed donations. Yet, organ donors may also face various forms of discrimination. The case of uterus donor recruitment for uterus transplantation (UTx) illustrates this issue quite clearly: women who may want to autonomously donate their uterus are in practice only permitted to do so if they have had children and ‘completed childbearing,’ even though not all women may wish to gestate or bear children for various reasons. In practice, this has led to a majority of UTx being done by using the uteri donated from recipients’ own mothers. In my view, this donor inclusion/exclusion criterion is problematic if we are at the same time to accept that the demand for UTx is rising and that donor recruitment ought to be increased. Rather than depending solely on mothers as the seemingly ‘natural’ candidates for uterus donors, I argue that expanding donor eligibility to be more inclusive of women who do not wish to gestate or have children is an important way to alleviate donor exclusion issues as well as the scarcity of available uteri.
Author: Ms PB Banda (University of Oxford)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
“Could it happen again...Will I die?”: Ethnographic insights into how obstetric racism reveals itself to be a double crisis of necropolitical injustice and bioethical violence against Black women in Britain
Presenter
Ms PB Banda (University of Oxford)
Authors
Ms PB Banda (University of Oxford) - Primary Author
“Could it happen again?...Will they leave me to bleed? Will I die?” is a poignant statement shared during an intimate conversation with a first-time mum during my doctoral fieldwork. This quote is contextualised by an experience of miscarriage (worsened by structural racism), a ‘rainbow baby’ (born through distressing treatment from clinicians), and post-partum (inter-institutional) negligence. This quote, and the story that frames it, is one of many and speaks to what I articulate as a double crisis found within obstetric racism; a crisis of necropolitical injustice and a crisis of bioethical violation. Based on my doctoral fieldwork of 7+ months in Britain— which included a hybrid ethnography of Black women and interviews with midwives, nurses, researchers, and gynaecologists— I consider how all of the stories and histories told reveal that the inner workings of obstetric racism are not only related to necropolitics but bioethics. In this paper, I build on my previous work of identifying how obstetric racism (Dana-Ain Davis), necropolitics (Achille Mbembe) and maternal politics (Jennifer Nash) are co-constituted in the inequitable maternal health outcomes experienced by Black women in Britain. I argue that my and my participants’ repeated question of “how is this allowed to happen?” implicates a violation of bioethics in this co-constitution. This paper will, therefore, explore how we can ‘re-world’ our understanding of reproductive violence by centring Black feminist scholarship from the continent and the diaspora to conceptualise obstetric racism as an expression of both necropolitical injustice and bioethical violations against the Black (m)other.
Author: Mr ()
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Egg Freezing and Reproductive Justice
Presenter
Mr ()
Authors
Mr () - Primary Author
Around the world, women are freezing their eggs in record numbers. Contrary to media reports, which suggest that women’s “selfish” career ambitions are the main determinant of women’s fertility postponement, women themselves offer different explanations for their fertility preservation. Based on a study of 150 American women who froze their eggs, this paper argues that access to egg freezing is an important reproductive justice issue, given that the technology, if made more accessible, can promote women’s right to have children. However, because of the technology’s high cost and lack of insurance coverage in the United States and beyond, most women who might benefit from egg freezing will never be able to access it. In the US healthcare system, medical egg freezing for young women with cancer is rarely covered by health insurance. The same is true for healthy single women who cannot find a reproductive partner, but are trying desperately to hold onto their fertility. This “mating gap” is a societal issue, not women’s own fault. But they are being penalized through insurance policies that favor those who are married. Although egg freezing is not a straightforward reproductive panacea for societal problems, barriers to access are furthering disparities based on gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, and marital status, all of which privilege reproduction for some women (especially cis, hetero, married, White women) at the expense of others. Access to egg freezing is thus an important reproductive justice issue for reasons to be explored in this paper.
Author: Dr CV Gardiner (King's College London)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Preconception Health Messaging, Epistemic justice, and Responsibility: Qualitative data from ‘Health Helpers’ in the HeLTI-SA Bukhali trial
Presenter
Dr CV Gardiner (King's College London)
Authors
Dr CV Gardiner (King's College London) - Primary Author
Ms L Mohlomi (University of the Witwatersrand)
Prof CE Draper (University of the Witwatersrand)
Mrs T Hlungwani (University of the Witwatersrand)
Prof SJ Lye (University of Toronto)
Prof SA Norris (University of the Witwatersrand)
Dr N Muller-Kluits (University of the Witwatersrand)
Dr N Torres (University of the Witwatersrand)
Dr D Watson (Imperial College London)
Dr M Pentecost (King's College London)
Using the concept of epistemic justice, our research investigates what the community health workers, known as ‘Health Helpers’, in the Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative-South Africa (HeLTI-SA) think about preconception health and responsibility. Preconception health, based upon the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease and epigenetic science, aims to improve intergenerational health. The knowledge that preconception health builds upon and (re)produces, however, is influenced by contextualised societal values. HeLTI, the flagship longitudinal research study for preconception health, is a WHO-affiliated international research consortium primarily investigating the intergenerational effects of complex interventions on obesity. Engaging with feminist bioethics methodology, which is empirical, situated, intersectional, and justice-orientated, our research investigates HeLTI-SA Health Helpers’ perceptions around responsibility in this emerging field. The Health Helpers, who deliver the preconception health interventions, are the crucial epistemic mediators between the value-laden preconception health science and the HeLTI-SA participants. We conducted semi-structured interviews with seven Health Helpers, and analysed the data using reflexive thematic analysis. Prominent themes include gender, heteronormativity, and child-bearing intentions and desires. These themes play a significant role in assigning preconception health responsibilities, and also demonstrate how preconception health knowledge and messaging can distribute responsibility and benefit in ways that are often unfair. Understanding the impact of the dominant epistemologies of preconception health in South Africa and elsewhere is critical. This is because it allows us to prospectively and ethically construct preconception health messages, interventions, and policies that promote equity and fairness, before embedding them in practice.
Author: Mr ()
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Demanding doctorability for abortion on request: a conversation analysis of pre-abortion counselling in South Africa
Presenter
Mr ()
Authors
Mr () - Primary Author
Research on abortion counselling generally uses retrospective interviewing regarding providers’ and users’ experiences. How the counselling interactions take place in real time on a turn-by-turn basis is not captured. In this paper we explore how requests for abortion are oriented to in pre-abortion counselling conducted in South African public abortion clinics. Using consecutive sampling, we recorded 28 pre-abortion counselling sessions at three abortion clinics, with permission of health users and providers. Conversation analysis was used to understand the conversational projects of the sessions and to outline how the request for an abortion was oriented to. Seven conversational projects were identified in the sessions. Establishing a reason for the abortion was a project that featured in most individual counselling sessions. Through posing directive questions, providers required users to justify their access to abortion. Users complied by providing multiple reasons. These reasons were often followed by a provider question demanding accountability in relation to contraception (non)use, thus establishing poor usage as the real reason. As abortion is legal on request in the first trimester in South Africa, no reason is needed. The demand for users to perform “doctorability” – justifying using medical resources – serves as a precursor to discipline the abortion seeker for assumed poor contraceptive usage. The context of conceiving an unwanted pregnancy is stripped away, and the individual made responsible for using state abortion care resources. Providers should be trained in user-centred care that supports pregnant people’s bodily integrity and reproductive autonomy.
Author: Ms A Kumar-Ratta (University of Toronto)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
The Politics of Reproductive Control & Justice in 'Punjabi Canada': (Re) Centering Alternative Biopolitical Imaginaries
Presenter
Ms A Kumar-Ratta (University of Toronto)
Authors
Ms A Kumar-Ratta (University of Toronto) - Primary Author
There is very little exploration of the complexities of gender, sexualities, and femininities among Punjabis in Canada; Punjabi women’s sexual and reproductive subjectivities are highly politicized but rarely centered and/or critically engaged with. In this chapter, I emphasize the ways in which sexual and reproductive surveillance of Punjabi women in Canada is a multiscalar project governed by logics of colonial racial capitalism. Furthermore, I begin to explore the multiple ways in which diasporic Punjabi diasporic across generations are reframing and reclaiming reproductive freedom. By experimenting with narrative and poetic analytic techniques and engaging reflexively with select stories, experiences, and body maps of Punjabi-identifying women in/around Peel Region, Ontario and in the Lower Mainland Region, British Columbia, I think through the regulation of Punjabi sexuality and reproduction and I (re)center diasporic Punjabi women’s sexual and reproductive subjectivities. In doing so, I offer some critical-creative reflections around the everyday politics of reproductive control and justice among the largest South Asian community in Canada.
Author: Ms YK Kalyanaraman (Rhodes University)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Sin and kin: the role of abortion providers as hinderers and enablers of reproductive justice
Presenter
Ms YK Kalyanaraman (Rhodes University)
Authors
Ms YK Kalyanaraman (Rhodes University) - Primary Author
Prof CIM Macleod (Rhodes University)
Ms LM Mogonong (Rhodes University)
The South African Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act promotes the provision of non-mandatory and non-directive counselling pre- and post-procedure. Research from the Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction (CSSR) unit shows that providers may view abortion as a problematic procedure and counsel in such a way as to dissuade clients from going through with it, thus impeding access. This study operationalised a set of abortion counselling guidelines, developed by the CSSR on the basis of the above-mentioned study, into an in-service training course for nurses in the Eastern Cape province. The course goals are as follows: to build nurses’ skills in abortion counselling; promote person-centred and contextually relevant counselling based on reproductive justice principles; dispel myths regarding abortion consequences with evidence-based research; provide nurses with a safe space to debrief; and ultimately benefit clients who access the service. Action Research methodology was used in curriculum design, facilitation, evaluation, critical reflection, and revision of the course. The paper focusses on challenges and learnings from the course. The former includes shortage of medication, outdated forms, lack of a designated space and internalised stigma. The latter includes participants’ reflections on contextual barriers, their acknowledgement of each other as comrades, and an increased awareness of their role as advocates for client’s reproductive rights. Reproductive justice thus functioned as a theoretical lens in the research but also effectuated agency and advocacy in providers as they began to promote autonomous decision-making in clients and respect for bodily integrity.
Author: Dr SM Majumdar (Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
“Motherhood as Entrepreneurial”: Exploring Reproductive Choice, Advocacy and Empowerment Among Women Post-Motherhood in India
Presenter
Dr SM Majumdar (Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad)
Authors
Dr SM Majumdar (Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad) - Primary Author

Birth professionals are trained and certified personnel assisting, supporting, and attending to women during the entire birthing process, from pregnancy to postpartum (Majumdar & Majumdar 2021). They are among the “newer” professionals, such as professional midwives, doulas, childbirth educators, and lactation consultants, who have developed a self-employed business centred on providing care services to women giving birth, such as assistance, support, and counselling. Many birthing women in India chose to give birth in a birth centre or hospital in the presence of a professional midwife or doula due to previous experiences with obstetric care, which they described as a "traumatic experience."
After experiencing motherhood themselves, the birth professionals have chosen to shift their established careers and develop businesses around providing support and care services and assisting mothers to have a pleasing birth experience (DeVries 2004). They educate birthing women in advocating for their childbirths by providing educational, informational, and care services. The business as birth professionals provide empowerment to women at two levels: one, empowering the birthing women to understand and advocate for their own childbirth; two, empowerment of these mothers-turned-birth professionals as care providers and business owners where they support assist and help birthing women. This presentation will discuss about the transitions the birth professionals have made from experiencing motherhood and identifying the need to help other birthing women to make informed choices for a pleasing birth experience.


Keywords: Motherhood, Reproductive choice, Advocacy, Obstetric violence


Reference
DeVries, R. G. (2004). A pleasing birth: Midwives and maternity care in Netherlands. Temple University Press.
Majumdar, S., & Majumdar, A. (2021). The birth professionals: Emerging practices of birthing in contemporary India. Asian Journal of Women's Studies, 27(4), 555-574.
Author: Dr M. Debergh (University of Amsterdam)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Abortion borders in Europe: challenges, rights and reproductive justice
Presenter
Dr M. Debergh (University of Amsterdam)
Authors
Dr M. Debergh (University of Amsterdam) - Primary Author
How are abortion borders socially constructed in Europe? Who and how are women traveling to get an abortion in the Netherlands? What are their rights and how are these people supported by health professionals working in Dutch abortion clinics and by pro-choice Dutch feminist collectives? What are the challenges that professionals and activists face?

Based on an ethnography conducted in the Netherlands and Switzerland, this talk aims at addressing these questions. By providing concrete empirical data and qualitative analysis from 20 interviews conducted with sexual health professionals (gynecologists, abortion doctors, and nurses), feminists from three pro-choice collectives, and sexual health experts, as well as from a selection of public health documents, this research shows three main findings. First, abortion borders in Europe are complex and not limited to international borders. This ethnography indeed shows internal travels in the Netherlands from rural to urban areas, abortion pills that are send abroad, and also doctors and activists traveling themselves abroad. Secondly, abortion professionals and feminists have to adapt and take into account these complex borders in order to support women. Third, abortion borders and traveling shed light on intersectional inequalities. These key findings will be discussed by making use of the concept of reproductive justice that helps us to go beyond a human right perspective to a social justice one.
Please note that I would like to present online. Thank you.
Author: Dr Z Mahmoud (University of Liverpool)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
(Re)Producing Injustice through Obstetric Violence
Presenter
Dr Z Mahmoud (University of Liverpool)
Authors
Dr Z Mahmoud (University of Liverpool) - Primary Author
[What are the enduring challenges to movements for reproductive justice and rights?]

South Africa’s application before the International Court of Justice alleged Israel violated its obligations under the Genocide Convention, drawing on evidence of direct and indirect violence against pregnant Palestinians since 7 October 2023 and implicitly referring to the use of obstetric violence as a tactic to prevent births. In line with the application’s recognition of the Nakba and continued occupation, this paper argues for explicit recognition of Israel’s ongoing intentional enactment of obstetric violence as a key challenge for reproductive justice in Palestine.

Whilst obstetric violence is predominantly applied within the context of healthcare settings, this paper argues for broader consideration of Israel’s settler-colonialist infrastructure, including population surveillance tactics and promotion of hospital births. Analysis of its dominion and power over Palestinian’s birthing bodies reveals how they are deeply entangled with the biopolitical strategies embedded in legal mechanisms of control. Imposed biomedicalisation of Palestinians’ birthing bodies (re)produces settler colonial dispossession must be read as part of broader political and legal mechanisms reinforcing the discursive framing of Palestinian birthing bodies as security threats. Locating Palestinian wombs as a site of political contest, this paper teases out how Israel sanctions obstetric violence in the interest of ‘national security’, suggesting the clinical and administrative management of Palestinian births under occupation cannot be understood separately from the logics of settler colonialism, and the ultimate goal of eliminating the indigenous population.
Author: Ms M Baase (University of Cape Town)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
A Comparative Analysis of the Limitation of South African Constitutional Rights in Surrogacy Matters
Presenter
Ms M Baase (University of Cape Town)
Authors
Ms M Baase (University of Cape Town) - Primary Author
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 provides a Bill of Rights and prescribes the manner in which courts should interpret the Bill of Rights. Lived realities, however, continue to illustrate instances of statutory deficiency and inconsistencies in the court’s interpretation and application of legislative provisions. This has particularly been evident in surrogacy cases.

Section 12 of the Constitution, 1996 makes provision for the right to freedom and security. Subsections 2(a) and (b) accordingly afford South African people their right to bodily and psychological integrity. Which includes the rights to make decisions concerning matters of reproduction, security in, and control over their bodies. Parties who choose to make use of assisted reproduction are therefore permitted to do so subject to their adherence to the requirements provided in the Children’s Act 38, 2005, National Health Act 61, 2003, and the Regulations Relating to Artificial Fertilisation of Persons, 2012.

This notwithstanding, the High Court handed down two judgments that were not in favour of the applicant(s) and/ or commissioning parents in AB v Minister of Social Development 2017 (3) SA 570 (CC) and Ex Parte MCM (2022) ZAGPPHC 712 (MCM). This paper will attempt to answer three questions relating to the legislation, its limitation in the cases above, and the changing realities of South African citizens. It will also conduct a comparative discussion of relevant cases in the Netherlands and England. This will be done to determine whether legislative reform is necessary in the regulation of surrogacy matters in South Africa.
Author: Ms E.S. De Ruiters (University of Cape Town)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Uterine Politics and Hypersubjectivity in a South African Feminist Digital Public
Presenter
Ms E.S. De Ruiters (University of Cape Town)
Authors
Ms E.S. De Ruiters (University of Cape Town) - Primary Author
Many young people with uteruses experience the organ as invoking a sense of personal responsibility for a (gestational) reproductive future which may or may not materialise, but is nevertheless inscribed with a host of intergenerational sociocultural expectations. In research based on a patchwork ethnography of South African Black Feminist Twitter, I posed a set of questions aimed at understanding how young feminists in post-apartheid South Africa are making sense of and finding conceptual purchase on the ideals of reproductive freedom and justice, by tracing a generational vernacular of body-talk about the uterus. This paper presents the findings of this research, exploring how anxieties and fears about living in a society saturated by gender-based violence are expressed through uterine hypersubjectivity. I argue that for young feminists in this digital public, there is an intensified alertness to the layering of responsibility and risk management associated with having a uterus, such that uterine subjectivities are being shaped by affective-temporal anxieties. In this public there is a significant sense of anxiety concerning what kinds of futures are possible, and about what may be required to secure such futures, given the enduring state of patriarchal capitalist violence in the present. I extend this analysis to pose two critical questions: What do contemporary South African feminist publics and their expressive vernaculars around uterine bodyhood reveal about the (psycho)socio-political meanings of the uterus? And how is such a vernacular uterine politics positioned in relation to, and contributing to, collective orientations to feminist futures for reproductive justice?
Author: Ms A Thomas (University of Cape Town)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Navigating life her way: understandings around how women’s SRH decisions are interwoven with issues of survival and priority-shifting
Presenter
Ms A Thomas (University of Cape Town)
Authors
Ms A Thomas (University of Cape Town) - Primary Author
This proposed presentation delves into the intricate dynamics of women's decision-making about their sexual and reproductive health (SRH). Drawing on my ongoing doctoral project, the presentation is focused on women's agency in making decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. The presentation seeks to outline how women in South Africa, irrespective of their socio-economic status, cultural background, or life circumstances, actively make choices that prioritise their SRH, reproductive intentions and pleasure, both in their contraceptive decision-making practices and their day-to-day choices regarding their health.

By exploring the resilience and determination exhibited by women in navigating various barriers to accessing SRH information and services, this presentation delves deeper into the ways in which SRH decisions are interwoven with issues of survival and priority-shifting. Within the context of intimate relationships this includes occasionally giving precedence to financial security over health risks or prioritising birth spacing through discreet means. Despite facing societal stigma, economic constraints, and cultural norms that may limit their autonomy, women demonstrate agency by seeking out resources, information, and support networks to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive well-being. At the same time, the presentation highlights the importance of acknowledging and addressing the intersecting factors that shape women's SRH choices, including gender inequality, discrimination, and lack of access to comprehensive healthcare services. By recognising the diverse experiences and needs of women from different backgrounds, the presentation also emphasises the need for tailored interventions that enable women to assert control over their bodies and sexual lives.
Author: Dr Priya Sharma (IIT Bombay, India)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Indian Surrogacy Law: A move towards Reproductive Justice?
Presenter
Dr Priya Sharma (IIT Bombay, India)
Authors
Dr Priya Sharma (IIT Bombay, India) - Primary Author
"But, who will do it without getting paid?”, asked Jenny, a two-time surrogate mother at a surrogacy hospital in Anand, India. We were discussing the then-proposed and now-passed Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill which made paying a woman for her surrogacy services, punishable by law. Under this law, only altruistic gestational surrogacy is allowed and that too only to the Indian or Indian-origin infertile heterosexual married couples and widowed/divorced women. Along with being seen as discriminatory against the section of people excluded from the eligible category of intending patents, this law is also seen as denying the possibility for women to be paid for their gestational labor and is blamed for looking at them as mere victims in the process. It is seen as therefore reproductively unjust. However, another twist to the tale is brought by a section of Dalit Feminists who look at the ban on commercial surrogacy as a step towards reproductive justice for Dalit women who they argue take up surrogacy only due to structural oppression. In this paper, I critically assess these contradictory applications of the Reproductive Justice framework to the issue of exploitation in surrogacy by bringing this framework into conversation with a decolonial Feminist Ethics of Care. Bringing in the voices from the field from both pre and post the ban, I aim to understand if the new law has paved the path towards a reproductively just and caring future or not.
Author: Dr A.R Benhura (Womens University in Africa)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
CONTESTING HEGEMONIC BODY NORMAVITY: NAVIGATING REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE FROM AN INTERSEX LENS IN ZIMBABWE
Presenter
Dr A.R Benhura (Womens University in Africa)
Authors
Dr A.R Benhura (Womens University in Africa) - Primary Author
Dr H Venganai (Womens University in Africa)
Ms P Gambiza (Womens University in Africa)
Atypical sex anatomy narratives have traditionally incited controversial medical and socio-cultural debates globally. For intersex people, being born into a social world that has no room for their physical sexual ambiguity is a source of tensions and discomforts around intersexuality and a threat to the enjoyment of their rights. Intersex is also steeped within the dominant discourse of hegemonic bodily normativity which echoes and is shaped by social theory notions of how (social) life ideally “ought to be”. Thus, intersex is stigmatized and in extreme cases even pathologised. For such reasons, complexities surrounding intersex conditions are borne by normative concerns that tend to be prescriptive and also ascribe, on both medical and socio-cultural grounds, the identity of female or male anatomy. Limited research has been carried out to ascertain the challenges faced by intersex people including adolescents in accessing sexual and reproductive health rights and services. This is partly attributed to a lack of legal recognition and influence of cultural and religious discourses which threaten their sexual and reproductive health rights including their right to bodily autonomy and integrity. This exploratory paper, influenced by feminist and queer theorists, engages with purposively sampled people with intersex (in its varied nomenclatures) conditions, to interrogate how they navigate their sexual and reproductive health needs within a Zimbabwean socio-cultural context where they are not legally and socially recognised. The paper seeks to locate the agency of intersex people in advocating for reproductive justice and challenging hegemonic framing of reproduction.
Author: Dr Bridget BASILE IBRAHIM (Yale University)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
Harm at the Hands of the Healer: Narratives of Mistreatment & Coercion in Maternity Care
Presenter
Dr Bridget BASILE IBRAHIM (Yale University)
Authors
Dr Bridget BASILE IBRAHIM (Yale University) - Primary Author
Dr Melissa Cheyney (Oregon State University)
Dr Saraswathi Vedam (University of British Columbia)
Dr Holly P. Kennedy (Yale University)
Harm at the Hands of the Healer: Narratives of Mistreatment & Coercion in Maternity Care

Background
High-quality, respectful maternity care is an important birth process and outcome. In a previous study of care during pregnancy and birth after cesarean in the United States (U.S.), we found that women marginalized by race/ethnicity and/or socioeconomic status were more likely to experience lower quality maternity care. We describe these experiences in more detail in this study.

Methods
We examined qualitative data from two arms of a mixed methods study from a sample of women interested in vaginal birth after cesarean in the U.S. Interview participants were recruited from the online survey participants. Using an interpretative description approach we analyzed responses to an open-ended survey question (collected May-Oct 2018), and narrative analysis for data collected through semi-structured interviews (conducted Nov 2018- March 2019). Bohren’s Typology of Mistreatment of Women During Childbirth served as a framework for analysis.

Results
• Many participants described their primary cesarean births as traumatic and disempowering. They described coercion and fear-mongering by their care providers.
• Participants who were marginalized (racialized and/or socioeconomically disadvantaged) were more likely to describe overt mistreatment by their health care team.
• Participants who had a midwife and/or a homebirth for their birth after cesarean were more likely to describe empowering and positive birth experiences than those who had a hospital birth and/or a physician provider.
• Women who had negative maternity care experiences were more likely to describe distrust of the healthcare system and to report a hesitancy in seeking postpartum or further reproductive care after their birth.

Conclusions
• Women with marginalized identities inequitably experience lower quality maternity care and mistreatment.
• We postulate that this mistreatment is reducing trust in the healthcare system and decreasing health system utilization, presenting missed opportunities for detection and treatment of severe maternal morbidities and health promotion among those at highest risk of maternal morbidity, mortality, and perinatal mental health complications who are also those made marginal by systems of oppression.
• Increasing access to midwifery care is one strategy for reducing inequalities in care and associated poor outcomes
Author: Mrs Carolina Topini (University College London)
Paper - Rights, justice, ethics
«Every woman has a reproductive rights story to tell». Navigating feminist solidarities and reproductive rights principles in the global women's health movement (1980s-2000s)
Presenter
Mrs Carolina Topini (University College London)
Authors
Mrs Carolina Topini (University College London) - Primary Author
What did Native Women in North America have in common with Black Women in South Africa and Indigenous Women in the French former colony of New Caledonia? Did Southern Italian Women and migrant Caribbean Women in the UK share any common experience? Did they speak the same “reproductive rights” language? What did “reproductive rights” mean to them in practice? As one participant at the 6th International Meeting on Women and Health in Kampala, Uganda, said in 1993, «every woman has a reproductive rights story to tell», capturing in a few words the diversity of women's reproductive lives and their particular, sometimes conflicting, understandings of reproductive agency.

In light of the recent resurgence of interest in the early reproductive justice activism and its enduring legacies, this paper proposes to explore the history of some of the most important international feminist health conferences that took place in various locations (Geneva, Amsterdam, San José, Manila, Kampala, Sao Paulo, New Delhi, Madras and Cairo) in the 1980s-2000s and contributed to the emergence of a vibrant global women's health movement. Over the yers, women’s struggles against racism, imperialism and population control policies became central issues, reflecting the will to bring the perspectives of women from the Global South into the international feminist health movement and to make it truly global in its perspectives and membership. Lesbian women, women from ethnic minorities and women with disabilities have also managed to negotiate their own spaces and visibility.

Drawing on unpublished archives, campaign material and personal testimonies, this paper analyses in depth not only the construction of solidarities and common goals, but also the emergence of conflicts, disagreements, and political differences among activists that allowed an intersectional concept of reproductive rights to emerge. How do these debates continue to resonate with today's challenges? How can global feminist histories inspire scholars and activists today, and provide practical lessons?
Author: Dr J Keaney (University of Melbourne)
Showcase - Rights, justice, ethics
Queer reproductions: race/sex, affect and biopolitics
Presenter
Dr J Keaney (University of Melbourne)
Authors
Dr J Keaney (University of Melbourne) - Primary Author
Prof U Dahl (Uppsala University)
Dr R Sanchez-Rivera (University of Cambridge)
Dr S Posocco (Birkbeck University)
Dr C Russell (University of Oregon)
Dr A Majumdar (Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad)
Queer reproductions: race/sex, affect and biopolitics
Conveners: Dr Jaya Keaney (University of Melbourne) & Prof Ulrika Dahl (Uppsala University)

While reproductive kinship has historically been positioned to culturally malign the queer, expanded reproductive rights and access to third-party reproduction today increasingly turn resourced queers into reproductive citizens. Queers are now hailed as potential parents by the expanding transnational fertility industry and certain (welfare) states. This context demands that scholars revisit the relationship between biopolitics and queerness beyond a dominant rights discourse centred on sexual diversity, love, and good feeling. Taking as our premise that heteronormativity and race are inextricable at the site of reproduction, this panel explores how (queer) reproductive practices today reproduce and reshape racial, colonial, and sex/gender orders. What are the racializing and affective contours of how some queer subjects are capacitated today as potential parents? What can a queer theory analysis of corporeality and relationality bring to reproductive studies? And how can queer innovations in kinship be thought alongside the blunt materiality of racialized, stratified reproduction?


Speakers and paper abstracts

Paper 1:
Love Makes a Family? Race, Biology and Queer Reproduction
Dr Jaya Keaney
Lecturer in Gender Studies, University of Melbourne, Australia

This paper considers the queer family as a scene of racialized reproduction. With the gay and lesbian baby boom of the 2000s behind us, the queer couple with children has emerged as a settled familial genre. Assisted reproductive technologies have played an important role in this emergence, widening queer peoples’ access to procreation in an era of plummeting adoption rates. Due to the transnational structure of fertility markets and the lack of racial diversity in Australia’s gamete banks, many queer families comprise a white parent or parents and “gaybies” of color. In this paper, I position the gayby as a world-making figure, instantiating the biopolitical conjuncture of queer family forms, interracial intimacy and mediated reproduction. Based on interview research with queer Australian parents, I consider how queer families manage, or more commonly, efface racial difference by centering their reproductive origin stories on children born through love. While this discourse is the culmination of a decades-long queer family rhetoric of ‘families of choice’, it is also threaded with Australia’s history of assimilationist multiculturalism, and the biologisation and commodification of race in fertility markets. Tracing these three histories concurrently demonstrates how a powerful queer family rallying cry is today threaded with racialized national discourses, and how, in the name of queer commitment, love can be wielded to deracializing effect.

Paper 2:
Biodata kinning, queering biodata
Dr Silvia Posocco
School of Social Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London

Feminist and queer anthropology argue that the transnational circuits of expertise, technology, biological substance and body parts like ova, sperm and embryos relating to human reproduction – or ‘reproflows’ – dynamically respond to changing moral sensibilities and emergent bioethical horizons in local contexts (Franklin 2014, Inhorn 2011). Reproflows engage multiple actors and forms of expertise transnationally in ‘global reproscapes’ tied to a plurality of situated human motivations and aspirations. Bioflows in assisted reproduction attest to the ‘transnationalized’ character of reproduction already consolidated in social practice. In this paper, we conceptualise reproflows as part of broader bioflows tied not only to the circulation of biomaterials, but as participating in a redefinition of bioinformation in the context of new transitions towards in vivo systems and life formations. The paper considers the rise of direct-to-consumer DNA testing and traces the contours of ‘in vivo systems’, considering the implications of these socio-technical infrastructures and dispersed, highly flexible, transactional circuits where biomaterials are retooled and repurposed, thus reshaping what counts as life, specimen, and biodata. We show how algorithmic operations rewrite people’s understandings of kinship, as biodata changes the ways people relate to one another and the meaning of social proximity and family ties. We argue that biodata relationalities and biodata kinning are new registers and scales of relations that emerge in the bioinformation turn. Existing studies open up, yet not fully address, the scope and implications of the transition to in vivo systems: moves to futurity, prediction, multi-temporal relationalities inherent in live biodata worlds.

Paper 3: Trans-exclusionary feminism through a critical eugenic approach
Dr Rachell Sanchez-Rivera
Research Fellow & Affiliate Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge

Common scholarly understandings tend to trace the development of eugenics from the coining of eugenics in 1883 to the eugenic and genocidal atrocities committed in Nazi Germany. Such literature thereby incorrectly frames eugenics as a pseudo-science that became defunct after the second world war. I argue that it is important for us to extend and complicate this timeline by which we understand eugenics, in order to understand the rise of transphobia at a transnational level.

For instance, on January 15 of 2023, activist Elizabeth Morgan gave a speech at a trans-exclusionary feminist rally in Newcastle. During her speech she cited the Mein Kampf written in 1933 by Adolf Hitler to argue that “the big lie now is that trans women are women; and we know that they are men”. Adolf Hitler originally used the conspiracy theory of the Big Lie in the Mein Kampf to further his eugenic, anti-semitic campaign for the elimination of Jewish communities in Europe. Now, ninety years later, trans-exclusionary feminists are operationalizing the same eugenic ideas and discourses to seek for the elimination of trans-people from the public sphere. As this example illustrates, a critical eugenic approach is therefore clearly required to understand and analyse contemporary political debate in relation to gender critical feminism and/or trans exclusionary feminism.

Paper 4:
Prof Ulrika Dahl
Professor of Gender Studies, Uppsala University, Sweden
Title and Abstract TBC

Paper 5:
Dr Camisha Russell
Associate Professor of Philosophy
University of Oregon
Title and Abstract TBC

Discussant
Dr Anindita Majumdar
Associate Professor, Liberal Arts
Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad
Author: Dr C Pickles (Durham University)
Showcase - Rights, justice, ethics
Obstetric Violence: Law, Policy, and Rights
Presenter
Dr C Pickles (Durham University)
Authors
Dr C Pickles (Durham University) - Primary Author
Dr S Mthembu (UNISA)
Dr D Msipa (University of Pretoria)
Ms B Koitsioe (WITS)
Dr J Rucell (WITS)
Re-worlding reproduction: Emerging knowledges, politics, and practices of justice (2024): Panel proposal

Panel title: ‘Obstetric Violence: Law, Policy, and Rights’
Conference theme: Rights, Justice, and Ethics


Panel description: This panel explores some of the complexities of recognising and responding to obstetric violence. Obstetric violence includes structural and interpersonal violence during the provision of facility-based reproductive healthcare services, including unnecessary, coerced or involuntary medical interventions. Obstetric violence is a human rights violation, and it is widely recognised to be a particular form of gender-based violence rooted in broader intersecting social inequalities. The panellists (activists, academics and practitioners) approach this issue from different perspectives: law, policy and activism, and human rights of marginalised people, particularly women living HIV and disabilities. The panel considers important gains in challenging obstetric violence and addressing its drivers, but each paper complicates these gains by highlighting shortcomings and gaps. The panel confronts pressing issues and advances multi-pronged and intersectional interrogations and understandings given the growing pressure on governments to address obstetric violence through the application of law and policy.

Speaker one and discussant: Dr Camilla Pickles, ‘Obstetric violence: Reflecting on a violence framework to support future socio-legal reform’
Bio: Associate Professor of Biolaw at Durham University, Visiting Associate Professor at Wits Law School. Her research is focused on women’s rights during pregnancy and childbirth, with a particular focus on obstetric violence, but includes abortion, involuntary sterilisations, foetal personhood, management of foetal remains, feticide, the maternal/foetal relationship during pregnancy, and violence and abuse during labour and childbirth in healthcare facilities. Her research intersects human rights law, medical law and ethics, criminal law, and tort law; and it engages broader themes related to reproductive justice, gender, equality, and violence (interpersonal and structural).
Abstract: Obstetric violence is a highly prized political concept with rich transformative potential. However, it is now emerging as nebulous and over-generalised concept proving to be difficult to operationalise in law and social reform efforts beyond Latin America. This paper aims to provide theoretical framework to support a focused and coherent socio-legal reform agenda. It offers a universal definition of violence, being the violation of physical or psychological integrity, and localises this definition using the ‘view from everywhere’. Drawing from its Latin American origins, the paper proposes that violence will qualify as ‘obstetric violence’ if the violation of integrity occurs in the context of labour and/or childbirth, and the subject of the violence is the birthing woman, trans, or non-binary person. The paper suggests thinking in terms of a ‘continuum of violence’ in reproductive healthcare to ensure different forms of obstetric violence are recognised and to help envisage overlaps with other violences during reproductive healthcare.

Speaker two: Dr Sethembiso Promise Mthembu, ‘The intersections of violence against women and HIV status’
Bio: Dr Mthembu is a feminist and advocate for the protection and advancement of human rights of all women who live on the margins of society, particularly HIV positive women. She is co-founder of Her Rights Initiative and a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Gender Studies, the University of South Africa.
Abstract: There is an intimate relationship between Violence and human rights violations. HIV infection in women, in the main, is a result and consequences of the violations. HIV positive women experience societal, personal, structural, and cultural violence. The paper will discuss how these spheres intersect to create a continuum of violation of human rights of HIV positive women. The paper will discuss the ideology and positioning of human rights in HIV policy, and how these silence violations in general, but in particular for HIV positive women. Sexual and reproductive rights approaches to human rights will be discussed. The paper will look at the strengths and limitations of the Obstetrics violence framework to bring to the surface and address human rights violations of HIV positive women in the public health services.

Speaker three: Dr Dianah Msipa, ‘Obstetric violence against women with disabilities in Africa: A human rights response’
Bio: Dr Msipa is a disability and human rights legal scholar and advocate with research interests in several areas including sexual and reproductive health and rights, access to justice, legal capacity, disability rights protection in the African human rights system, children with disabilities, and the rights of persons with albinism. She is the manager of the Disability Rights Unit and a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria. She also works as an independent consultant on disability and human rights law and policy, providing technical services to government departments and civil society organisations. Dr Msipa is also an Assistant Editor of the academic journal, the African Disability Rights Yearbook.
Abstract: Women with disabilities in Africa experience numerous violations of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, including obstetric violence. Different forms of obstetric violence against women with disabilities are fuelled by various factors including attitudinal barriers, the lack of disability inclusion training amongst health care providers, the lack of disability-inclusive policy and legal responses to obstetric violence. Regardless of the cause, obstetric violence inflicts serious physical, emotional and psychological harm. Adopting a human rights lens is integral to the formulation of an effective response. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the African Disability Protocol, both provide an enabling legal framework for addressing all forms of violence against women with disabilities, including obstetric violence. This paper will demonstrate how a human rights approach can help end obstetric violence against women with disabilities in Africa.

Speaker four: Basetsana Koitsioe, ‘Understanding barriers to access to justice for victims of obstetric violence in South Africa’
Bio: Petunia Basetsana Koitsioe is a human rights attorney and dedicated activist based at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Wits University. She specialises in gender justice lawyering focusing largely on gender-based violence, in particular the trauma and structural violence people face when they are failed by the very systems that are meant to protect them. Ms Koitsioe provides legal advice and is involved in litigating on behalf of individuals, communities and civil society organisations. She undertakes extensive advocacy work, which involves providing input into draft legislation and making submissions in Parliament, and participating in strategic communications plans including contributing to editorials and media releases and giving media interviews.
Abstract: This paper focuses on access to justice for victims of obstetric violence in South Africa and the provision of justice amenities to everyone without discrimination. It highlights state obligations to ensure accessibility, quality and accountability of justice services and system. When women seek justice, they are confronted by barriers to obtaining justice. For instance, there is the lacuna that exists in the law regarding its a lack of formal recognition of the term ‘obstetric violence’ as a form of gender-based violence. Further, while South Africa has an advanced legal framework that is applicable to the prohibition of acts of obstetric violence, this paper will show that the current system of placing obstetric violence under vague statutes and common law crimes is insufficient and creates a dangerous situation where there is impunity around acts of obstetric violence.

Speaker five: Dr Jess Rucell, ‘How is advocacy being used to win policy protections for pregnant women in South Africa?’
Bio: Dr Rucell is an applied Political Science scholar with over fifteen years of experience leading advocacy and research in the United States, Asia and Africa. Her research interest concerns power and how it manifests through States, gender, race, and reproduction. Her contributions have had impact on policy and service delivery. Her research focuses on equality and accountability, including: directing a study on the governance and political economy of women’s health to determine what drives obstetric violence; a mixed-methods examination of contraceptive autonomy; and leading a delegation concerned with peacebuilding in Indonesia, and an investigation of humanitarian response in Myanmar and Thailand. Dr. Rucell is Expert Advisor, Gender Justice, Centre for Applied Legal Studies; Secretary of the Sexual Reproductive Justice Coalition-SA; Member, Respectful Maternity Committee, Dept. of Health; and Standing Member, Sexual and Reproductive Justice Conference's Scientific Committee, Dept. of Social Development. She has been a member of South Africa’s Presidential G-Based Violence Summit 2, Planning Committee. She has taught sociology, global development, human rights law, and history.
Abstract: While women remain disenfranchised in access to land and employment, evidence shows inequality has begun to shift. The shift arises from policy and legal interventions that dismantle a discriminatory State, and the Bill of Rights. This context enabled reckoning with entrenched gender-based violence (GBV). This paper examines actions taken to address obstetric violence. Literature review and participatory ethnographic methods identify their outcomes. The denial of reproductive rights is understood to apply to pregnant women seeking health services, including for childbirth and abortion, in facilities. Findings demonstrate a variety of actors engage in both public and political advocacy including women, clinicians, lawyers and feminist collectives. Analysis reveals varied levels of success including up-take of new terminology, widening public awareness, participation and policy developments. Interestingly, interventions were led by the Department of Health, and the Presidency. For obstetric violence to gain similar attention as other forms of GBV broad mobilisation of women's formations is required.
Author: Dr M Tanderup (Aarhus University)
Showcase - Rights, justice, ethics
Surrogacy in uncertain times
Presenter
Dr M Tanderup (Aarhus University)
Authors
Dr M Tanderup (Aarhus University) - Primary Author
Panel theme description of the closed panel:
Legislation regarding surrogacy varies - many countries prohibit it by law, while others offer it at exorbitant costs. This legal environment has created a demography of intending parents (IP) who have resorted to transnational surrogacy arrangements. The opening and closing of markets are affected by changing political regimes, spectacular media cases, wars, and pandemics. As a result of changing markets, the gestational mother (surrogate), intended parents, and potential children are becoming more vulnerable due to absence of regulations, questionable transparency, potential for exploitation, diverse reproductive practices, legal parenthood issues, and the nationality of the child.
This panel analyses the present and future of the surrogacy market in these uncertain times and how situations of crisis exacerbate existing structures of inequalities within such fertility markets. We use the lens of “crisis” and “uncertainty” to highlight not just the extraordinary, but also the everyday instances of precarity inbuilt into surrogacy arrangements.

Speakers:
Title: Precarity and Stratification in Transnational Surrogacy
Anika König, Prof. Dr.
Department of Social and cultural anthropology, Freie University of Berlin
[email protected]

Title: Travelling Thai surrogate mothers: Required im/mobility and precarious intimate labour in transnational surrogacy
Elina Nilsson, Ass. Prof.
Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University, Sweden
[email protected]

Title: Exploring Reproductive Exile: Danish Permanently Infertile Couples' Surrogacy Experiences Abroad Amidst the Ukraine Conflict and the Covid-19 Pandemic
Malene Tanderup, PhD Fellow, MD
Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, Denmark
[email protected]

Title: Revisiting Surrogacy in India: Domino effects of a Ban
Amrita Pande, Prof.
Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town, South Africa
[email protected]

Title: Surrogacy and precariat labour in Ghana (abstract is unfortunately missing)
Sabina Appiah-Boateng, Dr.
University of Cape Coast, Ghana
[email protected]

Discussant:
Prof. Amrita Pande will both present and be the discussant of the panel.

ABSTRACTS:
Prof. Anika König

Title: Precarity and Stratification in Transnational Surrogacy

Surrogacy is perhaps the most contested form of assisted reproduction, especially when it is transnational—involving surrogates, intended parents, and sometimes also gamete donors from several countries. One of the main points of criticism is the issue of precarity and stratification within surrogacy arrangements. This view emphasizes the structural inequalities which facilitate precarity and stratification in surrogacy arrangements. However, these debates tend to almost exclusively focus on surrogates while most other involved persons and the highly complex relations between them are largely ignored.
In this talk, I address precarity and stratification in transnational surrogacy with a broader focus that also includes intended parents, the children born through surrogacy, but also surrogacy agents and fertility doctors. I aim at developing a more nuanced view of transnational surrogacy that takes into account the situationality and relationality of this form of reproduction. This is particularly important when we consider the additional uncertainties and vulnerabilities caused by recent major crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine both of which have had major impacts not only on the fertility and surrogacy industry, but also on the very individuals involved in surrogacy and their relations with one another.


Elina Nilsson, PhD

Title: Travelling Thai surrogate mothers: Required im/mobility and precarious intimate labour in transnational surrogacy

With this paper, I wish to expand our understanding of the labour surrogate mothers perform by showing how they, alongside the emotional, intimate, and physical labour of gestating and birthing a child, undertake substantial travels and border-crossings for embryo transfers and delivery abroad. In their strife for social upward mobility, surrogate mothers are required to adjust to a changing global reproductive market in order to fulfill the reproductive desires of others. However, relocation and mobility have not been much explored in empirical research and knowledge about surrogate mothers’ conditions and their experiences remain vague, particularly concerning those who cross international borders when engaging in this intimate and reproductive labor. By drawing on in-depth interviews with former surrogate mothers in Thailand in 2018-2019, I explore the lived experiences of women acting as surrogate mothers, with a special focus on the notion of im/mobility and flexibility. This opens up for a broader discussion of precarious positions, intimate labour, the global power relations, and the interdependency between different actors in the surrogacy arrangement.

Malene Tanderup Sørensen

Title: Exploring Reproductive Exile: Danish Permanently Infertile Couples' Surrogacy Experiences Abroad Amidst the Ukraine Conflict and the Covid-19 Pandemic

This qualitative study, conducted between May and September 2022, delves into the experiences of Danish permanently infertile couples engaging in surrogacy abroad, with a particular focus on the impact of the war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic. In-depth semi-structured interviews were carried out with 14 couples at various stages of surrogacy in Denmark, and the resulting transcripts were analyzed using systematic text condensation.
The findings reveal that, driven by the absence of legal provisions in Denmark, almost all couples sought surrogacy abroad, predominantly in Ukraine. The choice was motivated by the desire for a transparent contract, professional guidance, and the option to use the intended mother's eggs. Importantly, participants did not perceive this as a choice but as the sole avenue to fulfill their aspirations of parenthood, intensifying the emotional burden of their infertility.
The study expands on the concept of "reproductive exile", identifying four distinct forms: the exiled Danish couple, the gestational carrier in exile, exile at home, and the reproductive body in exile. Notably, the inability of the intended mother to attain legal motherhood in accordance with Danish law heightened feelings of not being a “worthy mother”.
In conclusion, comprehending the challenges faced by infertile couples navigating cross-border surrogacy is imperative. This study highlights the vulnerability of the newborn, the surrogate and the intended parents during times of crisis.


Prof Amrita Pande

Title: Revisiting Surrogacy in India: Domino effects of a Ban

In Aug 2015, the government of India declared a ban on transnational commercial surrogacy, restricting it to heterosexual married Indian couples who have no existing children and are able to persuade a relative to become a gestational mother altruistically for them. I use a multi-scalar approach to understand the full repercussions of a national ban on a transnational practice by analysing the effects of the ban on the local (the clinic) and the national (India’s role within the fertility industry), and by opening up conversations about dialogues at the transnational scale. I revisit my ethnographic field site two decades after my first visit, to reveal the effects of the legal changes on the local (the clinic). I expand the scale of analysis by unpacking the ramifications of the ban on India’s role within the reproductive assembly line. In the concluding remarks, I propose an alternative to the current debates by offering surrogacy as a praxis for opening up discussions around transnational feminisms.
Author: Dr R. Bhatia (University at Albany)
Roundtable - Rights, justice, ethics
Cross-Country Conversations on Sex Selection: South Asians in the Diaspora
Presenter
Dr R. Bhatia (University at Albany)
Authors
Dr R. Bhatia (University at Albany) - Primary Author
Dr M. Unnithan (Sussex University)
Dr R. Simon-Kumar (University at Auckland)
Dr S. Wanigaratne (University of Toronto)
In this roundtable, we take up the issue of sex selection as it has emerged in the South Asian diaspora. We look at the similarities and differences across various jurisdictions including the US, UK, Canada, and New Zealand. We take up how this issue is inflected by context specific abortion and migration politics and the minoritized status of South Asian communities in predominantly white countries as well as transnational ART markets. We reflect on research in each site that gives us information about what is known, not known, and contested about sex selection practices within the South Asian diaspora. Our conversation will draw from our own research including Uninithan’s ethnographic research with British Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi families in the UK, Bhatia’s feminist technoscientific study on transnational sex selection via ART, Simon-Kumar’s mixed methods research on sex ratios at birth among New Zealand’s Asian minority population as well as the dilemmas faced by health practitioners in promoting choice driven care, and Wanigaratne’s epidemiological study on sex ratios at birth among second generation South Asian communities in Ontario. By foregrounding an analysis that intersects gender, nation, and class, we explore the thorny questions of racial profiling in reproductive practices and narratives of cultural deficit based on the persistence of son preference across generations and cultures that challenge reproductive governance and rights-based frames.

Prof. Maya Unnithan (Sussex University)
Prof. Rajani Bhatia (University at Albany)
Prof. Rachel Simon-Kumar (University at Auckland)
Prof. Susitha Wanigaratne (University of Toronto) – invited but as yet unconfirmed
Author: Dr NF Falu (University of Texas, Austin)
Roundtable - Rights, justice, ethics
Towards Black Reproductive Rights: Transnational Activisms, Strategies & the Ethical
Presenter
Dr NF Falu (University of Texas, Austin)
Authors
Dr NF Falu (University of Texas, Austin) - Primary Author
Dr SM McCormick (Texas Christian University)
Dr JH Holly (Amherst College)
Dr MM Mena (USAID)
Ms SH Henry (Rice University)
Dr PW Watson (University of Memphis)
This interdisciplinary roundtable responds to the urgency of transnational organizing and engages the work of scholar/activists Anu Kumar and Loretta Ross who argue toward a “transnational and inclusive nature of reproductive justice.” Our panel focuses on transnational reproductive justice activism within and across the Black Diasporas to interrogate how policies, institutional practices, and social attitudes (largely shaped by antiblackness and misogynoir) negatively affect the people across the African Diaspora and undermine the reproductive justice movement. Stacie McCormick’s research traces narrative trajectories to explore the evolution of reproductive justice discourse and emphasizes how storytelling animates RJ work. Nessette Falu examines Brazilian Black lesbians’ emotional and social trauma within gynecology and their strivings for sexual freedom and community solidarity. Jallicia Jolly’s work on Black Jamaican women impacted by HIV/AIDS articulates RJ solidarity in action to examine grassroots networks of care. Patricia Watson examines Girl-Child sexual abuse in Jamaica and mothers’ responses to the violence. Samantha Henry studies how urban segregation impacts Black and Coloured maternal health in the U.S. and South Africa. Meryleen Mena looks at the experiences of formerly incarcerated Black Brazilian women and reproductive rights and activism in the context of pre-COVID-19. This roundtable reflects upon: How anti-Blackness and colonial settler logics continually challenge reproductive justice movements? How are communities, such as LGBTQI+ and queer communities, those with disabilities, and marginalized racial and ethnic groups, among others, navigate and envision reproductive justice? What are the Black feminist ethical practices that center the well-being of Black Diasporic reproductive living?
Author: Dr J Crear Perry (National Birth Equity Collaborative)
Roundtable - Rights, justice, ethics
Transnational Reproductive Justice
Presenter
Dr J Crear Perry (National Birth Equity Collaborative)
Authors
Dr J Crear Perry (National Birth Equity Collaborative) - Primary Author
The UNFPA, UNICEF, UN-Women, PAHO and NBEC Maternal Health Analysis of Women and Girls of African Descent in the Americas brings together for the first time, comparative data across the Americas on the situation of Afrodescendant women’s maternal health. It finds that Afrodescendant women and girls are disadvantaged before, during and after pregnancy. Afrodescendant women and girls’ maternal deaths are particularly alarming.

The analysis provides action oriented recommendations to reduce maternal mortality and ensure the highest attainable standard of maternal health for girls and women of African descent in the Americas in the short and medium terms.

https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/resource-pdf/UNFPA_MM_Analysis-July2023.pdf
Author: Prof AP Pande (University of Cape Town)
Roundtable - Rights, justice, ethics
Reworlding Repro-genetic justice: A South-North dialogue Roundtable Proposal
Presenter
Prof AP Pande (University of Cape Town)
Authors
Prof AP Pande (University of Cape Town) - Primary Author
Dr EG Galpern (Centre for Genetics and Society)
**Please note this is a submission for a hybrid roundtable (details and needs discussed with conference organisers) and has 7 presenters and one discussant.

New and emerging genetic technologies have the potential to redefine human health and well-being globally, and they raise complex questions about ethics and justice. The use of these technologies for reproductive purposes, such as screening for “desirable” traits in future offspring, is rapidly expanding. They compel us to grapple with fundamental questions about reproductive justice, disability justice and the conceptualisation of well-being, normality, ability, and perfection. Many countries in the Global South have recently become involved in the innovation and application of repro-genetic technologies. In most of these contexts, these technologies are seen to represent the promise of modernity and development without adequate attention to how these technologies intersect with structures of power based on gender, race, class, caste, sexuality and (post)coloniality.

Western moral frameworks embedded into the landscape of the international fertility and biomedical industries require us to bring new lenses from which to understand the impact these technologies have, including variations by geography, religious, political and moral philosophies. A reworlding of frames allows us to unpack the often contradictory relationship between pronatalism, antinatalism and new eugenics proliferating with right-wing populisms across the globe. This panel convenes civil society advocates and socially engaged scholars from across the world to re-imagine what repro-genetic justice looks like through a feminist and anti-eugenic lens, how Global South-North colleagues can collaborate to disrupt narratives currently dominating public knowledge and guiding policy making, and what role governing bodies, scientific entities and civil society can play in generating a more just future. (248 words; 250 max)

Primary authors: Amrita Pande and Emily Galpern

Speakers:
Discussant: Amrita Pande, University of Cape Town
Isabelle Bartram, Gen-ethisches Netzwerk e.V. (Gen-ethical Network)
Rajani Bhatia, State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany
Emily Galpern, Center for Genetics and Society
Jyotsna Agnihotri Gupta, University of Humanistic Studies
Florencia Herrera, Universidad Diego Portales and Núcleo Milenio Estudios en Discapacidad y Ciudadanía (DISCA) (Millenium Nucleus Studies in Disability and Citizenship)
Dorothy Roberts, University of Pennsylvania
Abril Saldaña Tejeda, Universidad de Guanajuato
Author: Ms CW Mbugua (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Paper - (In)fertile environments
Beyond the Stork: Assistive Reproductive Technology's Role in Transforming Single Parenthood in Africa
Presenter
Ms CW Mbugua (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Authors
Ms CW Mbugua (Royal Holloway, University of London) - Primary Author
This paper critically examines xenofeminist principles vis-a-vis single parenthood and assistive reproductive technologies (ART) in Africa, proposing a reevaluation of societal norms and power structures governing the pre-existing family dynamics. Drawing upon the xenofeminist school of thought, the paper challenges traditional narratives surrounding parenthood, interrogating the myriad of biases and constraints entrenched in our social, cultural, religious, and legal frameworks. In advocating for regulatory transformation by employing a xenofeminist lens, the paper underscores the need to address the intersecting forms of oppression within legal frameworks. It is important that the regulations reflect inclusivity, empowerment, and reproductive autonomy while challenging societal hierarchies and advocating for the recognition of diverse family structures.

By investigating the diverse cultural norms across different ethnic communities in Africa, the paper illuminates the convoluted interplay between our cultural norms and the evolving family structures. Through this analysis, the paper seeks to uncover the barriers hindering inclusive and equitable access to ART by exploring the experiences of single parents, particularly those marginalized by race, class, sexuality, and disability. Finally, the paper critically assesses the potential implications of the rapidly evolving ART, considering its transformative impact on notions of parenthood and family. By envisioning alternative futures guided by xenofeminist principles, the paper aims to call for action towards dismantling the patriarchal and oppressive structures while fostering more equitable and liberated approaches to parenthood and reproduction.

Ultimately, this paper offers a critique of African societal norms and suggests the reimagining of parenthood through the lens of xenofeminism, contributing to the pursuit of reproductive justice and autonomy for all.
Author: Ms Y Ndabula (Rhodes University)
Paper - (In)fertile environments
“I pulled it out”: An exploration of narrated accounts on decision-making and power differentials in the prescription and use of long-acting reversible contraceptives
Presenter
Ms Y Ndabula (Rhodes University)
Authors
Ms Y Ndabula (Rhodes University) - Primary Author
Prof C Macleod (Rhodes University)
Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC), viz., intrauterine devices, subdermal implants, and injectable contraceptives, are highly effective, long-term contraceptive methods that limit user action. Alongside the decrease in fertility rates achieved through their mass provision has been their coerced administration to marginalised women. Not much research has explored how contraceptive decision-making within clinical interactions shapes LARC uptake despite usage increasing in South Africa. Using a reproductive justice framework, I studied health providers’ and contraceptive users’ narrations of LARC prescription and the power relations that reinforce or undermine reproductive rights. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 51 contraceptive users and 21 healthcare providers. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect the data. Findings suggest that LARC users framed contraceptive usage as either a personal, imposed, or shared decision. In personal decisions, contraceptive uptake was feminised. When decisions were imposed, a passive role was assumed as female guardians recommended, pushed, and forced uptake. In shared decisions, decisions were enacted in relationships and were neither siloed nor imposed. Data from healthcare providers showed that non-use for young and postpartum women was not an option. In addition, healthcare providers either formed alliances to support or push for contraceptive provision. Supportive alliances enabled secret uptake or ongoing contraceptive usage among some contraceptive users, thus resisting pronatalism or one-sided intentions for child-bearing within intimate partnerships. Alliances that pushed for contraceptive uptake were formed with guardians/parents upon menarche or in the case of rape. This overcommitment to provide contraceptives by medical experts has differing implications for women’s sexual agency and sexual health interventions.
Author: Ms D Ibarra (University of Arizona)
Paper - (In)fertile environments
Climates of Precarity: Addressing the Non-problem of Fertility Rate Decline in the US
Presenter
Ms S Kenyon (University of Arizona)
Authors
Ms D Ibarra (University of Arizona) - Primary Author
Ms S Kenyon (University of Arizona)
In the last decade concerns about overpopulation have, in many contexts, shifted to worries over declining fertility rates which have been framed as an economic, social, and political problem. This paper challenges the idea that fertility decline is a “problem” to be solved, and instead interprets reproductive decisions as entry points to understanding young people’s thoughts on the multiple political, social, economic and ecological climates in which they live, love, and reproduce. By considering the factors that contribute to reproductive decision making, we seek to understand how and which concerns and anxieties about the present and the future shape fertility rate decline in the United States, for instance political polarization, lack of national healthcare and reproductive care restrictions, and attacks on LGBTQ+ rights. Thinking with the pillars of reproductive justice, we hope to shed light on the structures and climates that young people name as influential in their decisions to have and raise children as they navigate the tensions of their experiences with and expectations of hate and insecurity alongside love and community. The solution to the non-problem of fertility rate decline must go beyond national pronatalist schemes and instead address the underlying factors and climates that contribute to young people’s thinking about having children in the 2020s.
Author: Ms C Volks (Monash University Anthropology)
Paper - (In)fertile environments
A mismatch of kin-making norms? The implications of Australian women receiving oocyte donation in South Africa
Presenter
Ms C Volks (Monash University Anthropology)
Authors
Ms C Volks (Monash University Anthropology) - Primary Author
As the demand for oocyte donation in Australia exceeds supply, Australian women are pursuing cross-border oocyte donation in South Africa, which has an advanced fertility sector and supply of oocyte donors. However, this reproductive tourism can produce mismatched expectations due to different country socio-legal frameworks and kin-making norms. In Australia oocyte donation is altruistic with guaranteed identity release if pursued. The Australian context, influenced by the donor-conceived discourse, prioritises donor-conceived people having access to their genetic heritage to have social ties with their donor and donor siblings. Conversely, outside of known donation, South African oocyte donors are compensated, anonymous and not generally considered as kin. With the widespread utilisation of direct-to-consumer ancestry DNA testing and internet-based forums to locate genetic relatives, recipients and donor conceived people can learn the identity of previously anonymous gamete donors and try make social ties with donors. In 2022/23 we conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with 9 South African infertility counsellors and 12 Australian recipients of cross-border oocyte donation in South Africa. Some Australian recipients discussed using DNA testing and online forums to trace South African donors and/or donor siblings. Some South African counsellors said they did not discuss with donors the widespread use in Australia of DNA testing and online forums to find genetic relatives. The South African donors may not realise kin-making reproductive norms in Australia and hence the long-term implications of their donation. Some Australian recipients may not understand the South African donors may not want to be contacted or seen as kin. With implications for stakeholders, measures to mitigate a mismatch in expectations could include referral systems between doctors in both countries for implications counselling for both Australian recipients and South African donors about the different socio-legal frameworks and kin-making norms, as well as training for counsellors.
Author: Ms PE Bottoman (Rhodes University)
Paper - (In)fertile environments
"He’s not bothered with the pregnancy”: Gendered dynamics in partner support during pregnancy in low resource settings of South Africa"
Presenter
Ms PE Bottoman (Rhodes University)
Authors
Ms PE Bottoman (Rhodes University) - Primary Author
Prof C Macleod (Rhodes University)
Ms Y Kalyanaraman (Rhodes University)
Ms M Reuvers (Rhodes University)
ABSTRACT
Social support during pregnancy bolsters pregnancy-related health. Little attention has been paid, however, to the gendered dynamics that complicate intimate partner support during pregnancy. We outline pregnant women’s narratives of partner support in two low-resource areas of South Africa. Purposive sampling was used, with participants recruited through antenatal clinics. Multiple in-depth narrative interviews using photo-elicitation were conducted with fifteen participants. Data were analysed using narrative thematic analysis. Two over-arching narratives emerged: “my partner is absent”, and “my partner is there”. Partner absence was explained through sub-narrative themes: absence is justified in non-marital contexts; ukwaliswa – temporary absence during pregnancy; and partner absence is normal. Such absence was resisted through declaring it unjust and stressful, and father presence as necessary for foetal development. Mere presence was constructed as reassuring. Instrumental and emotional support were seen as noteworthy, especially in relation to feminised activities such as cleaning. Partner presence was also spoken to as leading to abuse. Paternity denial, reproductive coercion, family burden, and “doing it on one’s own” featured in these stories. Reproductive health programmes should address gendered power relations and norms that normalise partner absence, perpetuate gendered understandings of domestic and care labour, and contribute to intimate partner violence during pregnancy.
Author: Prof C Krolokke (University of Southern Denmark)
Paper - (In)fertile environments
Negotiating the “sins of the past”: Pollution and reproductive justice
Presenter
Prof C Krolokke (University of Southern Denmark)
Authors
Prof C Krolokke (University of Southern Denmark) - Primary Author
This presentation explores how colonial relations become entangled with chemical pollution and endocrine disruption in recent Global North/Global South firefighting foam PFAS pollution scandals. Employed at military bases and firefighting practice fields, throughout the world, firefighting foam is today found to be the cause of rampant environmental pollution. Echoing the work of reproductive justice scholars, I argue that reproductive rights should extend beyond access to birth control and abortion to include the right to have children and raise them in healthy environments (Ross and Solinger, 2017; Sturgeon, 2010). Inspired by Murphy’s (2017, p. 496) call to shine “critical light on the ways that settler-colonial capitalism emerges through chemical relations” as well as viewing chemical contamination as forms of “assisted” reproduction embedded within racialised and postcolonial hierarchies, in this presentation, I explore how colonial relations become entangled with firefighting foam in Global North/Global South scandals and scientific queries. Two questions guide the work: How does firefighting foam emerge as an environmental toxin? And whose reproduction appears to be under threat from chemical contamination? The presentation draws upon reproductive justice scholarship and feminist cultural science studies work to explore how pollution and reproduction, in separate cases, become problematized and what troubled figures emerge out of this problematization for governments and experts to address. Empirically, I take my point of departure in recent PFAS scandals in Denmark and New Zealand. The presentation seeks to bring new insights into the ways that toxins create reproductive trouble and emerge in Global North/Global South, colonial, and racialised relations. The presentation echoes the reproductive justice activist argument that the starkest consequences of environmental degradation are frequently felt by those contributing the least to pollution and the flows of global capitalism.
Author: Ms M.J. Reuvers (Rhodes University)
Paper - (In)fertile environments
Stop having babies if you can’t afford them! Intersections between reproductive agency, responsibility and affordability and their implications for pregnancy supportability
Presenter
Ms M.J. Reuvers (Rhodes University)
Authors
Ms M.J. Reuvers (Rhodes University) - Primary Author
A reproductive justice (RJ) approach is premised upon the rights of an individual to make reproductive decisions that enable them to carry a pregnancy in an environment that is conducive to their and their foetus’ wellbeing. Although an RJ approach recognises that reproductive agency can be empowering, ‘choices’ are circumscribed by historical, social, political, and economic constraints that operate in socially hierarchical ways. Macleod’s pregnancy ‘supportability’ framework (SF) guided my analysis. I investigated how participants’ pregnancies were assisted or constrained by the support networks and structures available to them. Narrative interviewing techniques were combined with photo elicitation to induce narratives on pregnancy support from pregnant women accessing antenatal care in a rural area of the Eastern Cape. Using a positioning template analysis, I plotted the narratives across the individual, micro and macro elements of the SF. Participants highlighted the socio-economic implications of their pregnancy on their immediate support networks and on their own pregnancy decisions and management. These accounts were a response to a dominant cultural narrative identified as “Stop having babies if you can’t afford them!”; it condemns those who are unemployed or poor and become pregnant. Based on their social locations within South African society, participants either resisted this narrative or upheld it. This presentation will highlight some of these findings and their implications for pregnancy supportability.
Author: Dr Martina Yopo Diaz (Universidad Diego Portales)
Paper - (In)fertile environments
Structural Infertilities. Neoliberalism and the constraints to childbearing in Chile
Presenter
Dr Martina Yopo Diaz (Universidad Diego Portales)
Authors
Dr Martina Yopo Diaz (Universidad Diego Portales) - Primary Author
Issues regarding whether and when to have children have been at the forefront of feminist struggles for reproductive justice. In recent years, important research has documented restrictions in access to contraception and abortion that hinder women’s ability to prevent pregnancy, but less attention has been paid to the structural conditions hindering women’s right to have children and parent in secure environments. This paper contributes to reproductive justice scholarship by outlining structural infertilities as an epistemic tool to grasp the lack of social conditions for having and raising children in neoliberal Chile. Drawing on qualitative data produced through 40 in-depth interviews, I argue that the erosion of social protection, privatization of basic services, and increasing costs of childrearing, push women into foregoing, limiting, and delaying childbearing as reproductive tactics to enact responsible selves and become good mothers. Structural infertilities intersect with economic injustices and disproportionally affect lower-class women who struggle with the lack of basic conditions for childrearing, precarious livelihoods, and the stigma of bad mothers. These findings expose how neoliberalism creates environments of reproductive injustice by outlining how the privatization and precarization of life restrict women’s reproductive decisions whether and when to become mothers. These findings also outline how poverty and vulnerability as structural issues constrain the right to have children and parent in secure environments, illustrating the inextricable intersections between reproductive and economic justice.
Author: Dr Julieta Chaparro-Buitrago (University of Cambridge)
Showcase - (In)fertile environments
The Child and The Environment: Emerging knowledges, persisting inequalities? (double panel)
Presenter
Mr ()
Authors
Dr Julieta Chaparro-Buitrago (University of Cambridge) - Primary Author
Dr Edmee Ballif (University of Zurich)
Panel Abstract:

This dual panel explores the figure of the child in relation to discussions on (in)fertility, child care, climate change, and toxic exposure to ponder contemporary hegemonic knowledges and structures of inequality that this figure perpetuates. "The child" is depicted as an innocent victim, a culprit, a symbol urging responsible action, or even as an agent of ecological change (Sheldon 2016, Phoenix et al. 2017, MacKendrick and Cairns 2019, Lakind & Adist-Morris 2018). The presentations address the following questions: which imaginaries of the child currently circulate in diverse social, cultural and geographical contexts in relation to environmental change? How do these imaginaries relate to global and local structures of social inequality? Can we leverage the image of the child to challenge hegemonic framings of the family and of gender relations to move towards environmental reproductive justice? The panel brings together perspectives from the Global South and/or that challenge American and Euro-centric perspectives.

Part 1 - Practices

Between Protection and Preparation to Doomed Futures: Raising Children in a Rural Environment in France
Mathilde Krähenbühl, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, [email protected]

Eco-reproductive concerns mark the contemporary entrance of environmental changes into reproductive decisions and imaginaries. Not only about the refusal or hesitancy to have children, but the emerging association between reproduction and environment also reshape the imaginaries of what “desirable parenthood” is and might become in the future.
When asked under which circumstances they would become parents, people who experience eco-reproductive often say how they would more probably start a family in a rural environment. Following this imaginary based on community living, food autonomy and sustainability, I conducted an ethnography in a rural area in France where many climate-concerned individuals move to build alternative lifestyles.
This paper focuses on those who migrate especially to be able to reproduce in what they imagine are “good conditions”. Since many of my interlocutors believe we face collapse, I ask how their imagined futures reshape their reproductive and educative practices. From their ideas of transmission and kinship, I explore the tension parents experience between the desire to protect and the necessity to prepare for doomed futures. Revealing a situated articulation between environmentally endangered futures, the child figure, and rural living, these tensions also highlight specific class and gender power relations.

Eating for the Future: Reproductive grammars in discussions of child nutrition
Edmée Ballif, University of Zurich, Switzerland, [email protected]

In this contribution, I examine discussions surrounding what constitutes a good diet for children as a battleground of competing notions of ‘the child’. Building on Yates-Doerr’s (2011) work on eating and feeding, I approach food as a key vector of biological and social reproduction. Child feeding practices facilitate individual children’s growth and well as the reproduction of communities, cultures and traditions. Thus, debates over how to best feed children provide insights into competing “reproductive grammars” (Franklin 2019) along which reproductive responsibilities are distributed.
I draw from qualitative research conducted on child nutrition discourses in Switzerland. Drawing inspiration from Rebekka Sheldon’s (2016) typology of figures of the child, I show how medical discourses often portray children as “in need of saving”, with medical experts guiding parents towards good and healthy dietary choices. In contrast, parents practicing alternative diets like veganism emphasize the figure of “the child who saves”, with hopes that their children will have a lower environmental impact on the planet. I discuss this new reproductive grammar that places hopes for a better future on children’s shoulders within the Swiss context both as a challenge to hegemonic, individualized ideologies of childcare but also as the problematic reproduction of socioeconomic privilege.

“The Child” in tension: Mapuche Childhoods in Chile
Elena Palma, Ludwig-Maximilian Universität Munich,Germany, [email protected]

In the conflict between the Mapuche people and the Chilean State, Mapuche children are usually on the frontline with their families to protect their Indigenous communities. Children take an active part in land recuperation processes and the defence of their lands and their water courses from environmental exploitation and military occupation. Their practices are rooted in Mapuche’s concepts around ‘the children’, pichikeche, who are understood as being integral parts of communities and active agents, capable of autonomous thinking and volition from an early age (Course, 2011; Murrey et al. 2015). This notion is in contrast with the hegemonic discourse and practices around children in Chile, where Mapuche children are seen as vulnerable and, often, victims of their parents and communities. As a concrete example, the Defensoría Nacional de la Niñez stated that Mapuche children of Pailahueque were used as ‘human shields’ by their mothers when they occupied a police station after the Carabineros destroyed the harvest of their communities. In this paper I will explore these two notions of ‘the child’, focusing on how they relate to inequalities and power structures. Drawing on a wealth of ethnographical examples, I will shed light on how Mapuche children practice and sustain a relationship of love and care with the Itrofill Mongen, life in all its forms.

No Kids Allowed: Anti-natalism in the Face of Climate Change
Peyton Campbell, Western University, USA, [email protected]

In this paper I explore an emerging construction of the child within environmental discourse, that being the child as an environmental burden. Following Rebekah Sheldon’s (2016) analysis of the child-in-need-of-saving and the child-who-saves, I argue that the child-as-burden further reproduces an environmentalism that maintains present systems over more radical but necessary reimagining of our social, material, and political organizing. Proposals to forgo having children in response to climate change, including Birthstrike for Climate, or Donna Haraway’s (2018) call to “make kin not population,” reflect an imaginary of the child as a burden on ecological systems and ‘overpopulation’ as a driving force of climate change and ecological destruction. Such calls threaten to reinforce racist and colonial anxieties over the perceived excess reproduction of people of colour, while positioning women as unequally responsible for addressing anthropogenic environmental impacts. Further, the child-as-burden fails to address the needs of children, primarily children who are poor, racialized, disabled, and located within the global south, from the uneven distribution of environmental harms. Thus, I explore how this emerging imaginary of the child is ultimately unhelpful in addressing climate change, and instead argue for environmental reproductive justice to imagine and enact more livable futures.
Discussant: Dr. Katie Dow

Part 2: Whose life matters?

Accounting for ‘the child’ in DDT debates: reproductive futures and ambivalent technologies in South Africa
Tessa Moll, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, [email protected] or [email protected]

For decades, DDT has been banned to protect both environments and population health. Studies have linked human DDT exposure to cancer, diabetes, neurodevelopmental effects, birth defects, and numerous impacts to reproductive health, including infertility and pregnancy loss (Eskenazi et al 2009). However, DDT is still used under, ironically, a public health exemption. This exemption allows for such programmes as Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) in Limpopo, South Africa, where DDT and other pesticides are sprayed inside homes to combat vector-borne diseases, namely malaria. This paper approaches DDT and related pesticides as “ambivalent technologies” —technologies that both help and harm human wellbeing — to foreground the differential values of whose harms and benefits ‘count’ and illuminates the underlying reproductive politics in environmental toxicity. There is on one hand the immediacy of metrics on childhood deaths from malaria – which, it is often recounted, is one of the greatest drivers of mortality for children under 5 in sub-Saharan Africa. On the other hand, there is the ambiguities of health effects driven by maternal exposure to insecticides used in IRS, potentially long-term, accumulated, and intergenerational. This paper explores the differing temporalities of harm, horizons of the future, and imaginaries of the child within this calculation.

Functional Medicine, Environmental Dysbiosis, and Reproductive Medicine
Rosalynn A. Vega, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, USA, [email protected]

This presentation explores how functional medicine doctors, many of whom are conventionally trained, interrogate the limitations of existing conventional medicine techniques by engaging emerging approaches to reproductive medicine. The figure of the imagined child plays a pivotal role in the care of patients who are themselves positioned as “pre-parents.” Functional medicine explores the so-called “exposome”—the totality of all environmental toxicants that an individual is exposed to. Environmental exposures are considered threats to the to-be-conceived child and working to reduce one’s exposome becomes a moral imperative for pre-parents who are concerned for the health of their future progeny. Functional medicine frames emerging epigenetic and microbiome science as a call to action: the health of future generations yet-to-be conceived is directly shaped by the lifetime environmental exposures of pre-parents and their ancestors. This paper also explores the socioeconomic- and race-based privilege inherent in functional medicine. Functional medicine promotes organic food, stress management strategies, “sleep hygiene,” etc., thus reproducing notions of the “good life.” Ultimately, I challenge privileged notions of environmental reproductive health when I extend the term “dysbiosis” to society. Just as the soil microbiome and the gut microbiome need diversity to thrive, social diversity determines the well-being of a society.

Future Investments and Foreclosed Possibilities: The Health of the Unborn and the Centrality of Property at Love Canal
Molly Henderson, George Washington University, USA, [email protected]

In American environmental history, the Love Canal disaster of the late 1970s has been recognized for its influence on American politics and culture, bringing new attention to the issues of toxic waste contamination and environmental health nationwide. In the public narration of the Love Canal disaster, the health of children, women, and future generations was foregrounded by officials as well as activists, with white, middle and working class mothers becoming the most visible leaders. It was not inevitable that the family, reproduction, and children be central to how the events, and their effects, were interpreted; rather, activists strategically leveraged their investments in home ownership and familial futurity in order to secure redress in the form of compensation for private property.

In this paper, I analyze how the centrality of these dual investments influenced the resolution of the crisis as well as future environmental politics and policies, specifically the passage of the Superfund Act in 1980. While the focus on the vulnerability of children and the home proved effective for Love Canal activists, it also contributed to enshrining racialized and classed norms of "deservingness" as a rationale for environmental redress, thereby sidelining more transformational possibilities.

Discussant: Dr. Julieta Chaparro-Buitrago
Author: Dr Abdenour Bouich ()
Paper - Globalisation, mobilities, and markets
Assisted Elimination
Presenter
Dr Zaina Mahmoud (University of Liverpool)
Authors
Dr Abdenour Bouich () - Primary Author
Dr Zaina Mahmoud (University of Liverpool)
“Settler colonies [are] premised on the elimination of native societies. […] The colonisers come to stay—invasion is a structure not an event.”

This Patrick Wolfe quote is recurrent in Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars critically exploring the particularities of settler-colonialism mechanisms in different geopolitical contexts, primarily the USA, Canada, and Australia. According to Wolfe, settler-colonialism is a holistic structure premised on establishing settler sovereignty on Indigenous lands. through the myriad of (c)overt, cohesive and non-cohesive laws, policies, and procedures adapted to specific historical periods, ranging from genocide during early settlement, to techniques of biocultural assimilation, with these termed the ‘logic of elimination’ of Indigenous peoples. Building on Wolfe’s work, Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars examine settler-colonialism as a geopolitical project (dispossession, removal, and containment) as well as a biopolitical project, intervening through the regulation of Indigenous bodies.

This article merges a settler-colonial analytic with Reproductive Justice to unpack how assisted reproductive technology (ART) governance mechanisms represent an evolution in elimination strategies. Following a discussion on the theoretical frameworks engaged, this article explores earlier iterations of elimination mechanisms (e.g. coerced sterilisation and residential schools). From here, the article discusses ART governance as the next frontier in the ‘logic of elimination’, demonstrating the flawed persistent a colonial equivocation present in discussions on the (intentional) disparities in access. This long overdue intersection adds to attempts to disrupt settler-colonial logics and their naturalised implementation of biopolitical hierarchies.
Author: Dr Tiba Bonyad ()
Paper - Globalisation, mobilities, and markets
'It is like spinning around yourself': Privatisation of reproductive care and routinisation of egg donation in Iran
Presenter
Dr Tiba Bonyad ()
Authors
Dr Tiba Bonyad () - Primary Author
Egg donation is the most sought-after method among all forms of third-party assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) in Iran (Abedini et al., 2016). Despite its relative popularity, this technology is exercised at an intersection of ambivalently gendered socio-cultural structures and the absence of specific laws. Accordingly, the decision taken by involuntary childless couples to make a family through egg donation is subject to a collection of bio-social impositions. These include but are not limited to the interpretation of legitimate biological reproduction as asserted by Islamic discourses around kinship and patriarchal norms of childbearing in Iran. In this paper, I examine how experiences and perceptions of ART users with donor eggs have evolved and been rearranged – since the early 2010s – through the privatisation of reproductive health care, implementation of family law, and gendered connotations of gametes. On this account, I draw on data gathered from my ethnographically informed fieldwork in two fertility clinics, a private clinic and a public hospital in Tehran (2019), and 35 in-depth interviews with prospective mothers, egg donors, and medical staff. Applying the sociological concept of ‘routinisation’ (Thompson, 2005; Wahlberg, 2016, 2018) of reproductive technologies as an overarching framework, I argue that despite enforcement of pronatalist policies since 2012 (Hoodfar, 2017), the privatisation of advanced reproductive technologies in Iran has intensified ‘stratified reproduction’ (Colen, 1984) whereby the access and possibility of becoming parents through medical technologies are steered towards the affluent Shia citizens while many are left in a precarious position. Here, third-party egg donation technology renders a proxy for the magnification of intersectional inequalities in terms of gender, sexuality, religion, class, and personal status.
Author: Mr GM Boshoff (Univerity of Pretoria & Hasselt Univerity)
Paper - Globalisation, mobilities, and markets
ART on the move: the realization of a mobile IVF Lab in South Africa
Presenter
Mr GM Boshoff (Univerity of Pretoria & Hasselt Univerity)
Authors
Mr GM Boshoff (Univerity of Pretoria & Hasselt Univerity) - Primary Author
Prof W Ombelet (Hasselt University & The Walking Egg non-profit organisation)
Prof C Huyser (University of Pretoria)
In South Africa, with a population of >60 Million, only three Public Sector ART units actively report data captured in the national registry, compared to thirteen ART Centres from the Private Sector. The number of professionals in the industry remains below international standards over the past decade with less than 50 clinicians and 100 embryologists providing Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) services. This relatively small industry offers insufficient access to ART, and the failure to meet the national need is clearly reflected in the latest national registry report, which noted that only 6.4% of the estimated ART demand is met per annum.

In the Public Sector, partially subsidised ART procedures are available to patients who fulfil the necessary criteria. However, the need to travel extensive distances (>250km) to the available ART centres, especially with a challenging public transport infrastructure, compound costs, causing a significant distance decay in patient numbers. To alleviate this impasse, the use of a mobile IVF laboratory could be part of an alternative approach to bring ART services to remote areas without the cost implication of setting up a fully functional MAR unit.

The design of a mobile IVF laboratory, employing the Walking Egg simplified embryo culture system, was performed as part of a PhD project, focusing on improving accessibility to MAR. The design realization and implementation of a mobile laboratory, and employment in the Public/Private sectors will be explored. This will reference training models, sharing of services by multiple medical facilities, and cross-border applications.
Author: Dr Ugo Edu (UCLA)
Paper - Globalisation, mobilities, and markets
Interrogating the Right to Family Plan: Towards Reproductive Liberty
Presenter
Dr Ugo Edu (UCLA)
Authors
Dr Ugo Edu (UCLA) - Primary Author
In this paper, I ask us to reflect on what is produced through the rhetoric, practices, markets, and discourse that accompany the right to family planning. I start from a less discussed and valued right, the right to not plan one's family, to interrogate what is at stake with priorities focused on ensuring reproductive rights, particularly that of family planning. I show how the family planning industrial complex - linked to the right to family planning - produces logics, practices, markets, and discourses that discourage the reproduction of certain populations while simultaneously requiring the reproduction of these same populations - like the poor, the "Global South", the marginalized, for example. Focusing on the discursive gymnastics to discourage the poor from reproducing themselves through the idea and practice of family planning, I point to how this is productive for capitalism and produces positions of vulnerability with the always already potential for exploitation. I aim to demonstrate how family planning, as enacted, can never lead us to reproductive justice, which may already be too entrenched in rights fittings to be as useful as we need it to be. I encourage us to think about what it takes, in terms of our stance towards family planning, to move us toward reproductive freedom, liberty, abolition, or something that tends in that direction. This work responds in part to the question of: How are the legacies of colonialism and racial capitalism remade in contemporary reproductive markets?
Author: Dr NS Lima (National Scientific and Technical Research Council CONICET)
Paper - Globalisation, mobilities, and markets
Reproductive Flows in Unregulated Contexts: The Case of Argentina
Presenter
Dr NS Lima (National Scientific and Technical Research Council CONICET)
Authors
Dr NS Lima (National Scientific and Technical Research Council CONICET) - Primary Author
In recent years, many studies have explored reproductive mobilities, especially in Europe, focusing on normative restrictions in cross-border reproductive care. Drawing on the concept of “reproflows” (Inhorn, 2015), this paper aims to explore the reasons behind the movements of people and gametes in Argentina.
The proliferation of assisted reproductive technologies has significantly increased the global mobility of individuals and genetic materials, shaping what scholars conceptualize as global fertility chains (Vertommen, Pavone & Nahman, 2022). These chains shows how the reproductive industry take advantage of IVF's body fragmentation, transforming bodily tissues and cells into standardized, commodified biomaterials that are accessible, owned, valued, and exchanged across the world (Vertommen et al., 2022). However, the evolution of these circuits in countries with fragile or fragmented healthcare systems, such as many emerging bioeconomies in the Latin American context, is underrepresented in global analyses.
The hypothesis of this research is that in unequal contexts lacking adequate regulations, liberal dynamics and practices prevail within a deregulated bio-market that primarily adheres to supply and demand principles. By conducting in-depth interviews with key stakeholders in the reproductive medicine field, this study aims to explore these circuits. The exploration seeks to identify the underlying logics driving and sustaining emerging bioeconomies, uncover the values and expectations promoted within these systems, and shed light on aspects that are often silenced or rendered invisible.
Author: Dr Alyssa Newman (Georgetown University)
Paper - Globalisation, mobilities, and markets
Constraint and Scarcity in the U.S. Market for Black Sperm Donors
Presenter
Dr Alyssa Newman (Georgetown University)
Authors
Dr Alyssa Newman (Georgetown University) - Primary Author
In the United States, Black reproduction has always been tightly monitored and controlled. The resonances of chattel slavery and reconfigurations of racial capitalism come to bear on present day reproduction, where technology presents new ways to alter, enhance, or constrain the project of birthing babies and/or creating families. These technologies include projects such as mass incarceration, which has long disrupted family possibilities, and continuous threats of criminalization, surveillance, and regulation used to tear apart existing ones (Roberts 2023). Conversely, the increase of wealth and the expansion of access to reproductive technologies provides more options yet complicates the forms of social/circumstantial infertility that result. Despite the shift towards inclusion of queer and families of color in the reproductive industry, Black women and birthing people who can afford these markets still face difficulty having their reproductive desires met. These reproductive services, designed to encourage and facilitate white heteronormative reproduction, have not changed nor meaningfully diversified enough to adequately support the reproduction of the expanded notions of families it now purports to include. The severe underrepresentation of Black sperm donors is one glaring shortcoming of U.S. fertility markets, as Black donors comprise less than 4% of donors despite being 13% of the population (Moreta et al. 2022). Drawing on survey data of over 100 participants searching for a Black sperm donor, this paper addresses the constraints, wrought by both states as well as markets, placed on Black reproduction, as well as the responses to scarcity in the market for Black sperm donors.
Author: Dr Anna Molas (Autonomous University of Barcelona)
Paper - Globalisation, mobilities, and markets
Un/Making reproductive labor: Integrating the voices of reproductive providers in the global bioeconomy
Presenter
Dr Anna Molas (Autonomous University of Barcelona)
Authors
Dr Anna Molas (Autonomous University of Barcelona) - Primary Author
Dr Laura Perler (University of Bern)
Reproductive bioeconomies have been expanding exponentially over the last decades, fueled by technoscientific innovations such as cryopreservation and international shipping arrangements. Despite the increasing reliance on third-party participants -providers of gametes or surrogacy- anthropological and sociological accounts of reproductive bioeconomies do not usually rely on their voices, particularly so in peripheral locations. Reproductive workers have been labelled as “savvy participants” (Nahman 2014) of the reproductive industry. However, the exploration of their own experiences and decisions in this area constitute legal and moral ‘grey zones’ (Lundin 2012) that need further consideration. This presentation draws upon insights from an upcoming special issue that offers ethnographic accounts of third-party IVF participants from contexts such as Ukraine, Iran, Turkey, Thailand, Spain and California. Through these narratives, we explore how bodies, biographies, and desires intersect with life science and medicine in a neoliberal context. By shedding light on the dynamics at play, we aim to provide a more nuanced and integrated understanding of the reproductive labor involved in third-party provision with the goal to demonstrate that the experiences of providers offer invaluable insights into the multifaceted landscape of reproductive bioeconomies.
Author: Prof Rosana Machin (University of Sao Paulo)
Paper - Globalisation, mobilities, and markets
Transnational mobility of oocytes and reproductive market: dynamics between Europe and South America and within South America
Presenter
Prof Rosana Machin (University of Sao Paulo)
Authors
Prof Rosana Machin (University of Sao Paulo) - Primary Author
Prof Consuelo Alvarez-Plaza (Complutense University of Madrid)
Assisted human reproduction has been de-territorialised into reproductive connectivity networks capable of adapting to contradictory laws, technological development and the mobility of people, reproductive substances, knowledge, and capital. The increase in the need for donated eggs, together with vitrification and restrictive legislation, has generated a circuit of this genetic material that crosses countries and continents. This expanded context has involving multiple bodies from a perspective of gender, race, and ethnicity, North-South and Global South relations. In 2018, we identified the reproductive mobility of women from Angola seeking reproductive treatment in Brazil. Currently, our study investigates the mobility of oocytes from Spain to Brazil and from Argentina to Brazil. In this sense, these technologies are part of the global contemporary market, within a perspective of consumption of bodies and parts of bodies (biomaterial) surrounded by ideals of race, social class, autonomy, choice, and identity. To analyze this phenomenon, we present results of an ongoing ethnography study based on documentary analysis of Brazilian Ministry of Health records, laboratory observations, in-depth interviews with specialists in the field (lawyers, doctors, embryologists, carriers, customs officials) and oocyte recipients in Brazil. We focus on reproductive mobilities and how racial and social class ideals permeate market dynamics in the countries involved.
Author: Ms R Ghosh (University of Illinois, Chicago)
Paper - Globalisation, mobilities, and markets
Informal Markets in Reproductive Labor: Surrogacy in Contemporary India
Presenter
Ms R Ghosh (University of Illinois, Chicago)
Authors
Ms R Ghosh (University of Illinois, Chicago) - Primary Author
The Indian state has recently criminalized commercial surrogacy, legally recognizing only altruistic surrogacy for select clients. While commercial surrogacy compensates surrogate workers for the gestational labor provided, altruistic surrogacy involves no monetary compensation. Surrogacy in India is built on imbalances of power, with lower-income, oppressed-caste, migrant women outsourcing their wombs to wealthy, upper-caste clients. My research studies India’s new surrogacy legislation as an instance of reproductive governance that naturalizes and devalues marginalized women’s reproductive labor. As the state juxtaposes sacrificial motherhood with income-generating work through this legislation, my research explores the construction of gendered subjectivities by the state-law nexus, and the social and economic implications of such legislation on surrogate workers. I explore the possibilities for the expansion of informal markets in reproductive labor, and what this means for the scope of reproductive justice in India vis-à-vis the growth of the assisted reproduction industry.
Author: Dr Johanna Gondouin (Gender Studies)
Paper - Globalisation, mobilities, and markets
An exploration of shifting bioeconomies in India and East Africa through the lens of racial capitalism
Presenter
Dr Johanna Gondouin (Gender Studies)
Authors
Dr Johanna Gondouin (Gender Studies) - Primary Author
Dr Asa Eriksson (Gender Studies)
Prof Suruchi Thapar-Bjorkert (Political Science)
In this paper, we analyze what we perceive as an emerging expansion of the Indian fertility industry into East Africa through the lens of colonial histories and racial capitalism (Bhattacharyya 2018, 2023). Culminating with the Indian Surrogacy Regulation Bill of 2020, the increased regulation of the ART market in India has forced this industry to reinvent itself in order to maintain its position as a market leader in a booming global bioeconomy. Its trajectories include moving into new segments of the market within India, such as the unregulated practice of oocyte donation and breast milk provision, and expanding globally into new unregulated geo-political contexts.Through these practices, India has successfully rebranded itself from a global hub for low-cost transnational commercial surrogacy arrangements to a world leading “pre-conception assemblage hub”, where embryos are assembled and implanted into surrogates who carry their pregnancies to term in other countries that lack protective legislation (Pande 2020). In this paper, we reflect on how these trajectories articulate with colonial racial hierarchies, geopolitical power relations and migration patterns, exemplary of the novel forms of racial capitalism through which value is increasingly amassed from racialized populations outside of the framework of regulated waged work.
Author: Ms Jung Chen (University of Cambridge)
Paper - Globalisation, mobilities, and markets
From race matching to selective mixed-race privilege: Taiwanese gay fathers’ reproductive navigation through the ovum selection process
Presenter
Ms Jung Chen (University of Cambridge)
Authors
Ms Jung Chen (University of Cambridge) - Primary Author
This research explores how white privilege travels from the western sociocultural contexts to Taiwan and is reshaped into the form of ‘mixed-race privilege’ from a global-local perspective by demonstrating gay fathers’ decision-making of choosing donor ovum in the transnational fertility industry, where reproductive biomaterials such as gametes are racialised and marketised. The data came from 53 in-depth interviews and 8-month participant observations with an LGBTQ+ association. In Taiwan, considering the regulations on assisted reproductive technologies and surrogacy, the only feasible way for gay men to conceive biologically related children is to seek third-party reproduction overseas. While western gay fathers attempted ‘racial matching’ by choosing ovum according to the background of the non-bioparent, Taiwanese gay men envisioned a different family racial contour because of the lack of Asian donors. As a result, most children in gay-father families in Taiwan are Han-Caucasian-mixed-race. This research investigates the implications of the racialised donor ovum in transnational reproduction and scrutinises how gay men’s family building re-make the racial hierarchy. The findings show a dynamic bargaining process of ovum selection that is embedded within the global-local sociocultural context, where white privilege transitions into mixed-race privilege for their linguistic, cultural, and symbolic capitals in Taiwan. Conclusively, I introduce the concept of ‘mixed-race privilege’ to argue that conceiving children via white ovum becomes predominant among gay fathers, and mixed-race family contour is employed to negotiate with the dominant racial hierarchy in society. I propose that the ‘mixed-race privilege’ is the (re)production of new racialised norms among gay-father families.

Keywords: Taiwanese gay fathers, assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), donated eggs, racial hierarchy, mixed-race children

STREAM: Globalisation, mobilities, and markets: How are the legacies of colonialism and racial capitalism remade in contemporary reproductive markets? What new forms of reproductive labour are emerging?
Author: Dr D Burnett ()
Paper - Globalisation, mobilities, and markets
Incubating in the Afterlife of Enslavement While Re-Worlding Reproductive Possibilities
Presenter
Dr D Burnett ()
Authors
Dr D Burnett () - Primary Author
In the United States, the legacy and afterlife of slavery (Hartman, 2006; Davis, 2019) is often reproduced through some of the worst maternal mortality rates in the world. Black reproduction in the United States is mired by racial capitalism and further complicated by the socio-political, policy, and personal dimensions of family creation and cultivation. Within this frame, less attention has been paid to a generational manifestation of colonialism and racial capitalism in the contemporary reproductive economy. Specifically, the scarcity/shortage complex relative to the options for partners alongside the commodification of Black sperm, created as arm of state apparatus’ endeavor to destroy, separate, and break Black families.

This paper will focus on the contextual framing of the economy of reproduction among Black people between the ages 28-48 in the US; specifically, an era of aggressive efforts to discourage youthful reproduction, the impact of significant Black family policy reform aimed to remove fathers from households and promote dependence on government means and mechanisms, and similarly complementary encouragement to focus on educational and career achievement subsequently leading to partnership and procreative delays. In the wake of incubating in this environment, this generation confronts the impact of mass incarceration on family possibilities, enduring narratives that denigrate single mothers and illusive notion of broken homes, and homophobia on efforts to become a parent. Conversely, I discuss how the increase of wealth and the expansion of access to reproductive technologies provides more options yet complicates the forms of social/circumstantial infertility that result.
Author: Dr Kristen Cheney (U Victoria)
Roundtable - Globalisation, mobilities, and markets
Baby Markets in the Post-Covid Anthropocene
Presenter
Dr KE Cheney (U Victoria)
Authors
Dr Kristen Cheney (U Victoria) - Primary Author
Dr Karen S. Rotabi (CSUMB)
Dr Nkatha Murungi (U Pretoria)
Ms Emily Galpern, MPH (Center for Genetics and Society)
The COVID pandemic briefly suspended activities like international adoption and surrogacy due to prohibitions on travel, thus creating an opportunity to disrupt the inequalities and potential exploitation inherent in these cross-border practices. However, indications that these activities are returning to—and even exceeding—pre-COVID levels raises new concerns about the quest for global reproductive justice. Was COVID just another crisis where the extractive patterns of previous baby markets repeated themselves, or is something new happening, due to e.g. advancements in ARTs?
This roundtable will explore the speculative futures of baby markets in the post-COVID Anthropocene by considering how the pandemic, as well as recent conflicts, climate change, and other existential challenges have affected reproductive decision-making around the world. Following the market, moralizing, legal, and technological trends, we will examine developments in adoption and surrogacy, and identify new horizons--as well as shifts to new technologies like embryo adoption and artificial wombs--and to consider their implications for reproductive rights, justice, and ethics around the world.

Discussant: Kristen Cheney (Professor, Child & Youth Care, U Victoria)
Speaker 1: Karen S. Rotabi (Professor, Social Work, CSUMB) – social work perspectives on emergent baby markets
Speaker 2: Nkatha Murungi (Professor/Acting Director, Centre for Human Rights, U Pretoria) – Africanist human rights perspectives on emergent baby markets
Speaker 3: Emily Galpern (MPH, Center for Genetics and Society) – reproductive justice perspectives amidst technological advances in ART
Author: Dr Bijoya Roy (Centre for Women's Development Studies)
Paper - Race, nation, and governance
Demographic Dividend, Family Planning and Markets in India
Presenter
Dr Bijoya Roy (Centre for Women's Development Studies)
Authors
Dr Bijoya Roy (Centre for Women's Development Studies) - Primary Author
India, as a country committed to Family Planning Movement 2020, has exacerbated anxieties around population explosion imposing the need for smaller families. As it posits the concern for population control, it is simultaneously appealed to by the prospects of demographic dividends. The country is beleaguered by the declining participation of women in the labour workforce, and the state tacitly demands them to participate in the workforce and carry the responsibility of bearing small families. This process stigmatizes and targets women from marginalized communities (Dalit, Adivasi, Bahujan, Minority) who face resource limitations, do not use health systems frequently and also face stratified response and abuse from the state welfare programmes, including RMNCAH+N.

Using the framework of reproductive governance, this paper explicates ways in which the economic justification for smaller families sees a resurgence in the millennium. It shows how global philanthropists, international organisations and the state support Public and Private Partnership mode and allow modern reversible contraceptives to the most marginalised in the hope of ‘releasing’ marginalized women for workforce. Thus, it shows how women become part of political, economic and social governance, i.e. stratified, violate their bodies, and expose them to experimentation. It argues how in the neoliberal framework of development, reproductive health programmes erode reproductive justice, medicalizes family planning process and coalesce with issues of nationalism by regulating population composition. This restructuring of population policy acts as a (de)legitimate mechanism for their access to basic services and entry into the labour market for demographic dividend.
Author: Mr Jaciane Milanezi (CEBRAP)
Paper - Race, nation, and governance
"It is a cultural problem": reproductive devaluation and control of international migrant women in the city of São Paulo, Brazil.
Presenter
Mr Jaciane Milanezi (CEBRAP)
Authors
Mr Jaciane Milanezi (CEBRAP) - Primary Author
Literature on international migration and human reproduction has recently turned its gaze to everyday practices inside local healthcare bureaucracies regarding the reproductive care of migrant women. Studies across the Global North and South divide have shown how street-level bureaucrats' expectations that international migrant women comply with the rules of the national healthcare system and stigmatization of non-mainstream models of pregnancy contribute to the reproduction of injustice and gender inequalities. Building on the literature on reproductive stratification, intersectionality, reproductive governance, policy implementation, and international migration, the paper analyses how local health bureaucracies constitute and control migrant women as subjects of reproductive care in a particular unequal context: Brazil. Although migration scholars often focus on the experience of migrants in the Global North, a new international migration profile has emerged in the early 21st century, with growing South-South migration. In the case of Latin America, this has led to a change in the racial profile of migrants compared to the primarily European and white flows of the early 20th century. In the case of Brazil, Bolivians, Venezuelans, and Haitians are currently the largest migrant groups in contrast to the flows of Europeans of the last century. Taking the city of São Paulo as the empirical case, the paper analyses how municipal healthcare bureaucracies have addressed the reproduction of the new influx of Haitian migrant women. The analysis focuses on how their reproductive representations impact accessing reproductive health care services locally. The analysis is based on an ethnography of a health unit in the city center of São Paulo, located in an urban region with a high concentration of the Haitian population. The study indicates that Haitian women might experience reproductive control when accessing public services due to a combination of stigmatization of their reproductive models and inappropriate rules of the Brazilian health system regarding their reproductive choices. By focusing on women's reproductive rights in displacement, the paper contributes to advancing the knowledge on the intersection of race, nation, and reproductive governance, especially by addressing how reproductive discourses inside a national health system reflect intersectional ideologies of non-white migrant women.
Author: Mr ()
Paper - Race, nation, and governance
Fertility Figures: the Reconfiguring of ‘One Child’ China
Presenter
Mr ()
Authors
Mr () - Primary Author
Over the past few years, family planning policies in China have undergone a dramatic about face. After decades of state-led efforts to prevent births through a ‘one child policy’, family planning officials have now embarked on a national drive to increase fertility by relaxing family planning restrictions. Yet, projected policy-change targets of around 20 million annual births have fallen spectacularly short with 9.56 million births registered in 2022. This chapter accounts for the ongoing reconfiguring of China’s comprehensive reproductive complex by showing how a series of ‘fertility figures’ – ”leftover women” (sheng nu ?‰??), ”bare branches” (guang gun ?…‰??) and “DINKs” (d?n?kè yìzú ???…‹??€?—) – have come to circulate through scholarship, films, literature, popular journalism, commercials, social media and more. Such fertility figures have emerged as quantified demographic changes and projections come to be personified and stereotyped in speculations about the future.
Author: Ms VC CHARALAMPOPOULOU (ATHENS)
Paper - Race, nation, and governance
Protecting the nation, reproducing the family: legal discourse and the human body in Greece
Presenter
Ms VC CHARALAMPOPOULOU (ATHENS)
Authors
Ms VC CHARALAMPOPOULOU (ATHENS) - Primary Author
Ms AH HALKIAS (PANTEION UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS )
What is the human body in the context of Greek legal discourse? What are the terms for its recognition? Where is the North and the South in this particular discursive setting? The proposed paper focuses on how Greek legal discourse, shaped by dominant narratives of nation, race, gender and sexuality, constructs the human body. We examine body-related areas of legal discourse to tease out normative definitions of human reproduction and the family. We find these legal texts emphasize the biological origin of the family, stipulating “family” as characterized by blood ties and the birth of children. The latter, further, is linked to the preservation of the purity of the Greek nation, and Greeks are rendered a distinct race.

Using a critical approach to the analysis of discourse, specific legal texts are examined: from the Greek Constitution (Articles 4, 21, 108), to Article 304 (Law 4619/2019) on the termination of pregnancy, and the legislation on medically assisted reproduction (Presidential Decree 456/1984, Laws 3305/2005 and 4958/2022), in addition to legislation stipulating conditions for the physical capacity of conscripted Greek men (Presidential Decree 11/2014) and regulating international protection to people seeking asylum (Law 4939/2022).

The paper argues that, in this legal discursive domain, North and South traverse one another. The Greek nation itself emerges as a threatened family, positioned at a site where conflicts between masculinities take place. We suggest that Greek law constructs reproduction and the family by validating and legitimizing nationalist and racist discourses, and dominant narratives of gender and sexuality.
Author: Prof L Nunez Carrasco (University of the Witwatersrand)
Paper - Race, nation, and governance
Migration, Violence and Reproduction in the Global South
Presenter
Prof L Nunez Carrasco (University of the Witwatersrand)
Authors
Prof L Nunez Carrasco (University of the Witwatersrand) - Primary Author
In this presentation, I discuss the axes of comparison of the experiences of migrant women giving birth in South Africa and Chile against the backdrop of growing nationalism and xenophobia in these countries. With a focus on migrant women and their experiences of giving birth in two disparate locations, this comparison reveals the disciplinary nature of public healthcare as a colonial enterprise. In doing so, it poses questions about how care is delivered, and how these women and their offspring are construed as patients, -entangled with concerns about race, nation and motherhood. The work traces the reach of xenophobic violence, attending to global processes and local contexts, placing women’s bodies at the center of the analysis. 
Author: Dr Riikka Prattes (Monash University)
Paper - Race, nation, and governance
Colonial Care in the Nordics: Child Removal and the Reproduction of Race
Presenter
Dr Riikka Prattes (Monash University)
Authors
Dr Riikka Prattes (Monash University) - Primary Author
Prof Lene Myong (University of Stavanger)
This article examines how colonial care becomes a tool for the reproduction of race in the Danish context. Colonial care, as described by Prattes (2023), involves three elements: first, it moves the other closer to the self via subordination; second, it inverts the positions of carer and cared for; third, and crucially, it involves extraction from a racialized other. We expand the concept of colonial care in dialogue with recent work on reproduction and coloniality (e.g. Gondouin and Thapar-Björkert 2022; Graugaard and Høgfeldt Ambrosius 2023; Bang and Kroløkke 2023) and by investigating and mapping two phases of child removals in the Nordic context: The Danish state’s (genocidal) removal of 22 Inuit children in 1951 intended to create an elite to “modernise” Kalaallit Nunaat and the removal and adoption of Black German children into white Danish families after WWII. We ask: How is race reproduced and reconfigured through the biopolitical tool of colonial care operating in these cases of child removal? In answering this question, we focus attention on two aspects: first, how white nation-building and the white family are made possible via affective extraction from the racialized child (Myong and Bissenbakker 2021); second, how the management of racial difference works through a politics of (attempted) disappearance – as assimilation - shoring up coloniality. We conclude by arguing that this specific history of child removals constitutes crucial entry points to understand the assimilatory management of immigrant and racialized populations in contemporary Denmark.
Author: Dr Detlev Krige (University of Pretoria)
Paper - Race, nation, and governance
The (re)emergence of familial metaphors of sovereignty in crisis South Africa
Presenter
Dr Detlev Krige (University of Pretoria)
Authors
Dr Detlev Krige (University of Pretoria) - Primary Author
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has produced moments of crises in countries across the world with concomitant transformations in political discourse and a renewed scholarly interest in questions of sovereignty. Early on during the pandemic, the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, instituted what became known as “family meetings”. These family meetings were televised speeches, usually taking place in the evening, during which the president would address the nation, wearing a suit and tie, from his presidential office. In a recent analysis of the speeches made by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa during the Covid-19 pandemic, Sally Hunt set out to study how the main elements of COVID-19 in South Africa were constructed in his speeches but instead found that “the relationship set up between the citizenry and the president in the speeches was more prominent in the data and more central to the aims of the texts” (2021:1-2). Hunt came to realise that what these speeches were doing, more than anything else, was to “construct a specific relationship between the President and the citizenry” (2021:11): calling these family meetings, opting to use a traditional mode of communication such as television, his lexical choices and the overarching family-as-nation metaphor produce “an overarching frame of a low social distance, familial relationship between the speaker and his audience, rather than an overtly powerful, political dynamic” (Hunt 2021:11). In this paper, I extend the analysis offered by Hunt by placing the (re)emergence of the nation-as-family metaphor in South African political discourse in a wider context of right-wing populism, before suggesting that there may be more local dynamics at play for the resurrection of this metaphor, a metaphor used by colonial and apartheid politicians and cultural nationalists of vary stripes. Specifically, I argue that the ‘generational disjuncture’ that has become an important feature of South African society laid the foundation for the emergence of this metaphor. Arguably, the student protests that rocked South African higher education institutions and wider society from 2015 to 2017 can be understood in light of this generational disjuncture and may shed some light of the use of this metaphor as a way to extract compliance from ‘the youth’ rather than to diverge from the post-national identity constructed around the constitution.
Author: Ms Xiaomin Cai (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Paper - Race, nation, and governance
Reproductive Governance and Leverage: Navigating Sperm Donor Selection among Chinese Lesbian and Single Women
Presenter
Ms Xiaomin Cai (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Authors
Ms Xiaomin Cai (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) - Primary Author
This paper discusses the ambivalences in reproductive governance and resistant leverage through the case of sperm donor selection among Chinese lesbian and single women. It draws on qualitative interviews with 37 (intended) mothers and an ethnography in companies of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) as well as online communities on non-marital birth via ARTs. Though only heterosexually married couples are allowed to use ARTs and sperm banks in China, sexual minorities and single women have been finding access to have children via underground markets or transnational reproductive travel. The circumventive practices and narratives highlight resistance against heteronormative reproductive governance and effective leverage in the pronatalist context, especially as women claim the making of “father-free” families. On the other hand, local legacies of population control, neoliberal family ideology, and global politico-economic and racial inequalities become resources for the communities to navigate the discrimination against unconventional family forms. Specifically, intended parents often refer to the necessity of proving their deservability and sameness in family-making. These efforts are found in the rationale for selecting “quality” sperm donors and considering race in the market of donor sperm, where East-Asianness serves as a “difference reducer” while whiteness is valued as a body capital to invest in children. While situating the strategies within China’s changing positioning and discourses regarding the Global North and South, the paper builds on the theorization of how unequal systems of gender, race, and class relations are co-constituted through changing forms of reproductive governance as well as the leverage from the margins.
Author: Mr Tyler Zoanni (University of Bremen)
Paper - Race, nation, and governance
The Dark Side of the Miracle: The Politics of Reproduction on an Aging, Shrinking Island
Presenter
Mr Tyler Zoanni (University of Bremen)
Authors
Mr Tyler Zoanni (University of Bremen) - Primary Author
This paper considers the contemporary politics of reproduction in Mauritius historically and ethnographically. Mauritius is regularly described as an African Union (AU) “miracle” in economic, political, and social terms—as a small island nation-state that escaped being a “case study in Malthusian economics,” as one Nobel-prize-winning economist described its 20th century explosive population growth. Following a radical population control campaign which started in the 1950s, Mauritius became a multiethnic, multireligious democracy, as well as one of the AU’s few upper-income countries. The paper first outlines the ways that population control remade reproduction, kinship, sexuality, and race in Mauritius. It then focuses on the ways that this supposedly miracle-inducing demographic transformation has ironically led to a new reproductive crisis: that of being an aging, shrinking island. A very wide swath of young Mauritians—of African and Indian descent, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian, rich and poor—see little reason, chance, or hope for pursuing the kinds of families historically considered both ideal and desirable. The paper makes two particular interventions around the politics of reproduction in Mauritius. First, the paper analyzes the ways that anti-Blackness grounds dominant discourses about biological and social reproduction at this moment in Mauritius. Second, the paper tracks efforts to foster alterative understandings of reproductive possibility on the island, including degrowth, environmental activism, and queer kinship.
--This paper contributes to thinking about Race/Nation/Governance, Kin and care, and Reproductive knowledges
Author: Mr TM Marton (Brandeis University)
Paper - Race, nation, and governance
The Colonial Legacy in Current Reproductive Governance in Sub-Saharan Africa, a case study of Kenya
Presenter
Mr TM Marton (Brandeis University)
Authors
Mr TM Marton (Brandeis University) - Primary Author
Every day, 810 women die globally from preventable pregnancy-related causes and 99% occur in low and middle-income countries. Sub-Saharan Africa has some of the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality and a long history of global involvement in reproductive health dating back to the colonial era. This paper contextualizes the gaps in current maternal health services in East African countries, exploring the history of reproductive governance exercised by colonial administrators. I draw on analysis from two sources: a scoping review of historiographies (11 books and 14 peer-reviewed articles) in Scopus and PubMed databases examining reproductive governance in East African countries from 1885 to 2015; and 13 in-depth interviews with midwives in Kisumu County, Kenya. I focus on the rationales behind reproductive governance, comparing the colonial era with the present. In parts of colonial Africa, healthcare providers initially prioritized urban areas, leaving rural communities underserved. During this time, traditional birth attendants and Christian missionaries catered to reproductive health needs in rural areas until secular medical services reached them, starting in the 1930s. Today, despite efforts by the Kenyan government and the international community to promote facility births over home births, midwives noted a lack of investment in crucial care elements, especially in remote areas. This disinvestment in rural communities has resulted in notable differences in facility birth rates between urban and rural areas, with a higher percentage of births occurring in health facilities in urban settings. The legacy of colonial health infrastructure shapes current health outcomes, leaving rural areas inadequately served.
Author: Dr NS Jearey-Graham (Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa)
Paper - Race, nation, and governance
Precious babies and sinful mommies: governance apparatuses that shaped an alcohol and pregnancy intervention
Presenter
Dr NS Jearey-Graham (Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa)
Authors
Dr NS Jearey-Graham (Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa) - Primary Author
Prof CI Macleod (Rhodes University)
South Africa carries the highest recorded burden of FASD in the world, signalling a critical need for interventions. However, unless carefully designed, interventions risk re-imposing discursive injustices on marginalised women and communities. This presentation draws from a critical formative evaluation of an alcohol and pregnancy intervention being conducted in two townships in the Eastern Cape. Data included training materials, video- and audio-recordings of training sessions, interviews, and audio-recordings of mentoring sessions.

Data analysis used Foucauldian and conversation analytic techniques. Findings show that three dominant governmental apparatuses underpinned the intervention, namely coloniality, patriarchy and pastoral power. Western medicalised knowledge was upheld as superior to that of communities and families; foetuses were constructed as both precious and god-like, yet also fragile and in need of constant attention from the pregnant woman; women were positioned as passive and invisible except as receptacles for their “precious babies”, while men were positioned as active and strong; and facilitators invoked pastoral power when engaging with women through positioning them as ignorant children who needed to be obedient to the intervention’s dictates. If they were not, there was the unstated but powerfully present position of sinful into which they were interpellated.

We argue that women and communities need to be positioned within an ethics of both reproductive justice and care if they are going to be able to rise above the hegemony of an alcoholic culture, and we provide examples of how such ethics could be used to enhance interventions trying to reduce FASD incidence.
Author: Prof TJ Feltham-King (Rhodes University)
Paper - Race, nation, and governance
Deconstructing deviance: The construction of teenaged pregnant women as illegitimate reproductive subjects
Presenter
Prof TJ Feltham-King (Rhodes University)
Authors
Prof TJ Feltham-King (Rhodes University) - Primary Author
Prof CI Macleod (Rhodes University)
The dominant construction of teenaged pregnant women functions to position them as illegitimate reproductive subjects. There continues to be widespread moral panic which assumes that these young women lack information and a sense of responsibility which results in deviant decision-making. This paper reports on a chapter dealing with teenaged pregnancy, which appears in an undergraduate Psychology textbook, utilised in a South African University. By drawing on the dominant discourse of early reproduction as a social problem (which is bolstered by mainstream developmental psychology) these teenaged pregnant women are depicted as lacking the resources and capacities for successful pregnancy and mothering. In this paper deconstruction (and the way in which the present and absent terms simultaneously define and interpenetrate each other) are explored to highlight the insufficiency of binary understandings of early childbearing. The paper illustrates how deconstruction can be used to challenge normative constructions and interrogate that which is considered deviant. The analysis concludes that the construction of deviant reproductive decision- makers is essential to the definition and demarcation of what is, and what is not, considered to be acceptable mothering and by extension successful womanhood. By uncovering the intersectional power relations which position the teenaged pregnant woman as a deviant reproductive decision maker, it becomes possible to advocate for a shift away from constructions in which individual young women are held responsible for injustice. Furthermore, this enables an acknowledgment of the multiple power relations, that shape the numerous sexual and reproductive injustices in their lives.
Author: Mrs CA Robertson-Ormston (Rhodes University)
Paper - Race, nation, and governance
Discourses of empowerment in a sexual and reproductive health intervention
Presenter
Mrs CA Robertson-Ormston (Rhodes University)
Authors
Mrs CA Robertson-Ormston (Rhodes University) - Primary Author
Prof T Feltham-King (Rhodes University)
Prof CI Macleod (Rhodes University)
The discourse of empowerment is central to most sexual and reproductive health (SRH) interventions in South Africa, addressing issues such as HIV, unintended pregnancies, and gender-based violence and knowledge gaps with regards to sexuality education. Primarily directed at young women, empowerment discourses aim to enhance their knowledge and induce behavioural change. This paper looks at how empowerment discourses operate within a sexual and reproductive health intervention. The intervention, formally launched between 2017-2018, includes mentor training camps where young women undergo modules to establish youth clubs. These clubs, led by mentors, guide young women in their communities through various modules related to self-growth, sexual health, leadership, economic and employment development. The intended outcome is that young women will utilise the knowledge and resources provided to make so-called “informed choices” about their lives. By using a Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, the preliminary findings of this study suggest that the discourse of constrained agency work to position young women in contradictory and limiting ways. For instance, agency is positioned to strategically navigate structural and systemic inequities. In this way her raced, classed, and gendered experiences of injustice are minimised, decentred, or erased. This paper demonstrates how discourses of empowerment utilise a neoliberal logic to suggest that making individual, autonomous and rational choices is sufficient for bringing about social justice, constructing empowerment as a product of the intervention, and ignoring the social, systemic, and structural inequalities which continually reinforce the precarity and vulnerability of young women.

Author: Ms Shambhawi Vikram (Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi; Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Paper - Race, nation, and governance
Studying the Fetish of Menstruation in Contemporary India
Presenter
Ms Shambhawi Vikram (Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi; Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Authors
Ms Shambhawi Vikram (Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi; Jawaharlal Nehru University) - Primary Author
Public discourse in contemporary India has been saturated with debates around menstruation. Ranging from the Sabarimala Temple Entry movement to student led movements in urban India against Period Tax to school teachers demanding Period Leave from the central government, menstruation has had its 'moment'. The paper foregrounding these movements and moments, studies the friction between several ideological forces seeking to remake menstruation in the current moment. State and development led interventions have foregrounded menstrual hygiene as the primary parameter rendering the sanitary napkin a fetish for our contemporary time (Prime Minister announces a re-packaged policy providing cheap sanitary napkins on Independence Day address and is lauded all over social media). Market led discourses have been celebrated for auguring an epistemic shift and creating the possibility to accommodate all menstruators whereas the media has centred menstruation thereby according it 'visibility' (most notably in a recent commercial Hindi film, 'Padman'). Popular feminist assertion has then had to contend with doing away with menstruation related 'taboo' and notions of (caste) purity-pollution.

The 'problem of menstruation' is thus remade and yet lies before us as confusing as ever. This paper maps this 'incitement to discourse' over the last ten years in India. Drawing from my Doctoral research, I undertake a mapping and a review of these injunctions to offer an alternative speculative model of menstrual politics in India that can escape easy co-optation by state and neoliberal models of governance as well as the binds of a biomedical ontological mode of politics that ultimately pathologises other reproductive practices.
Author: Dr S Vertommen (University of Amsterdam and Ghent University)
Roundtable - Race, nation, and governance
Resistance is Fertile: Reproductive Justice for Palestine
Presenter
Dr S Vertommen (University of Amsterdam and Ghent University)
Authors
Dr S Vertommen (University of Amsterdam and Ghent University) - Primary Author
Ms E Gul (University of Vienna and University of Graz)
Dr W Hammoudeh (Birzeit University)
Dr M Nahman (University of the West of England)
Ms F Mohamied (Midwife)
The point of departure of this roundtable is the analytical and political urgency to understand Israel/Palestine through the intersectional feminist lens of reproductive justice.

Even before the ongoing genocide in Gaza, Palestinian life and reproduction has been limited and compromised by Israeli settler-colonialism, apartheid and occupation. News stories from Palestine document the bombing and destruction of already fragile care infrastructures including hospitals, the lack of reproductive health supplies (e.g., anaesthesia, contraception or sanitary products), and the catastrophic impacts for pregnant and labouring people, their children, families, and communities. These direct forms of reproductive violence and injustice are situated in Israel’s century-old yet ongoing settler colonial history, tied to stratified forms of reproductive governance bearing strong necropolitical militarised logics. Israel’s documented and explicit goal of creating and consolidating a demographically and dominant Jewish state in Israel/Palestine materialises at the expense of Palestinian life, reproduction and existence. This apartheid system highlights how Israel’s selective pronatalism is partly rooted in structures of demographic replacement, ethnic cleansing and genocide of Palestinians and their collective means and infrastructures of life, biological and social reproduction.

Building on legacies of transnational, anti-racist and anti-colonial feminist solidarities, and bearing witness, this roundtable brings together scholar-activists to urgently engage with and organise for reproductive justice in/for Palestine rights, and hence human rights.

Timing: 90 minutes, with virtual/hybrid participation requested to enable a range of perspectives/reflections.

Panellists:
Siggie Vertommen, assistant professor at University of Amsterdam and postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University. Her research grapples with the global politics of (assisted) reproduction in Israel/Palestine, Georgia and Belgium at the crossroads of ongoing histories of settler colonialism and racial capitalism

Elif Gül is a PhD candidate at the University of Vienna & University of Graz in Gender Studies and Science and Technology Studies. Her research engages with reproductive justice and more specifically birth justice, agnotology & material-semiotics.

Weeam Hammoudeh, assistant professor at the Institute of Community and Public Health at Birzeit University. Her research examines the broader political and structural determinants of health, including reproductive health and mental health, and development of health institutions in Palestine.

Michal Nahman is Associate Professor in Social Anthropology at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Her work examines gendered embodiments, in national and state configurations alongside commodification and extractivism.

Fatimah Mohamied is a Muslim, mother, and midwife. As an activist and writer, she is passionate about advocating against injustice, especially from capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy.

Rishita Nandagiri (Chair) is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, King’s College London. Her research focuses on gender and reproductive injustice(s) in the Global South(s).
Author: Dr Bloch (U of British Columbia)
Paper - Kin and care
Migrants Navigating Reproduction, Kinship, and Care in Russia
Presenter
Dr Bloch (U of British Columbia)
Authors
Dr Bloch (U of British Columbia) - Primary Author
This paper examines Congolese women’s efforts to navigate a detention regime on the edge of Europe and asks how women are forging futures for their children, even as states and aid organizations circumscribe the forms of intimacy, kinship, and reproduction they can enact. As of the late 1990s refugee women and men from various sub-Saharan countries--including Congo, a site of ongoing strife with a history of connection to the Soviet Union and recently renewed Russian military funding—began seeking asylum in Russia. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Moscow (in person 2017-2019, and more recently virtually) among women asylum seekers, my research is framed within a vibrant literature on how the policing of mobility transforms migrants’ experience of kinship and care (e.g., Coe 2013; Constable 2014). In focusing on interviews with Congolese women frequenting a neonatal clinic run by a church organization I consider how women’s narratives about reproduction are entwined with prevalent Russian efforts to discourage mobility into Russia. Women’s narratives foreground kinship and belonging as key to easing life’s travails, and sometimes providing a certain protection from police harassment, costly fines, or even deportation. Turning attention to practices of reproduction and kinship among women migrants provides a way to understand them as decision-makers navigating precarity and imagining a future (in Russia or elsewhere), instead of as simply subject to state detention regimes. The paper relates to a number of the conference themes, including “kin and care”, “race, nation, and governance”, and “reproductive knowledges”.
Author: Ms Z Mhlongo ()
Paper - Kin and care
Masculinities and Teenage Fatherhood: Indoda (a man) must!
Presenter
Ms Z Mhlongo ()
Authors
Ms Z Mhlongo () - Primary Author
In South Africa heteronormativity often shapes ideas around fathers’ presence in parenthood. In light of this, there is a need to reimagine early fatherhood as a potentially transformational force in the construction of masculinities. This qualitative ethnographic study will build on Connell's work on hegemonic masculinities to investigate how gender, race, class, and culture intra-act with masculinities to create affects that are used as a basis in shaping young fathers' experiences and ideas of parenthood. Several scholars concur that there are benefits to a strategy that places a high priority on working with fathers to enhance the welfare of children and families. This study highlights issues related to teenage fathers' abilities, cultural customs, kinship, paternal involvement, and the myriad ways in which young parents and their extended networks mobilize and navigate support and care for men confronted with early, unintended pregnancies. In doing so it aims to illustrate the complexity and diversity of teenage fatherhood in South Africa. Inspired by new feminist materialism, Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts of assemblages, territorialization, deterritorialization, and affect, in conjunction with Bennet’s notion of becoming. This study deploys both a new feminist materialism lens and African masculinity lens to examine the negotiation of masculinities in teenage father’s experiences and understandings of parenthood. The research sample involves thirty teenage boys between the ages of 13-19 years located in a township setting on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. Purposive and snowball sampling techniques were used to recruit participants. The study's data production techniques primarily rely on a participatory visual methodology to comprehend the experiences and conceptions of fatherhood held by teenage fathers. Participants (the visual output makers) utilize the visual outputs to describe their lived experiences of topics that are significant to them or to share their own experiences. Data generation methods included digital workshops, cellhims, storyboards and focus group discussions. The data generated is analysed using Spinozo-Deleuzian ethological toolkit. Through an exploration of the gendered implications of teenage parenthood, we contend that when teenage fathers' conceptions of parenthood intra-act with different, socially and culturally mediated versions of masculinity, the affects created are used to both challenge heteronormativity and constrain teenage fathers becoming(s) in gender transformative ways.
Author: Dr V S Matswetu (University of KwaZulu-Natal)
Paper - Kin and care
Kinship care, early sexual debut, pregnancy, and marriage in rural Zimbabwe: Exploring vulnerabilities and reproductive autonomy.
Presenter
Dr V S Matswetu (University of KwaZulu-Natal)
Authors
Dr V S Matswetu (University of KwaZulu-Natal) - Primary Author
Authors: Matswetu, Vimbai S and Bhana, Deevia

Teenage pregnancy is a significant concern in rural Zimbabwe, where economic challenges and limited access to reproductive health rights and services increase girls’ vulnerability to unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. Our study examines teenage girls’ reproduction in the context of unsupervised kinship care in rural Zimbabwe where this form of care is assuming greater significance amid multifaceted challenges such as poverty, orphanhood, and parental migration or precarious employment. This research employs a novel feminist materialist perspective to delve into experiences of teenage girls in unsupervised kinship care, employing in-depth interviews and arts-based methodologies. Findings illuminate these girls’ susceptibility to early sexual debut, unplanned teenage pregnancy, and early marriage within a context of pervasive abuse and neglect in kinship care. In addition, the study underscores how entrenched gendered social norms, as well as complex, albeit fragile, kinship care systems influence girls’ decision-making processes surrounding early sexual debut, pregnancy, and marriage. Furthermore, cultural interpretations of dignity infringe teenage girls’ reproductive autonomy, and increase the likelihood of sustained poverty and abuse from their partners. Moving forward, urgent interventions focusing on changing norms and establishing oversight and support mechanisms for kinship carers are warranted to mitigate the risks faced by teenage girls and safeguard their reproductive rights.
Author: Dr S Mutaru (University of Pretoria)
Paper - Kin and care
The “children of witches”: Care-giving between generations in northern Ghana
Presenter
Dr S Mutaru (University of Pretoria)
Authors
Dr S Mutaru (University of Pretoria) - Primary Author
In northern Ghana, elderly women accused of witchcraft are banished (or sometimes chased away) from their villages of origin. These women flee to so-called “witch camps” where the earth priest and the anti-witchcraft specialist, the Tindana, conduct anti-witchcraft rituals to purge the accused of their powers before admitting them into residence. In these spaces, elderly accused women live with their children or grandchildren who are brought to provide care, but are also cared for in return. Physically and psychologically, the host village is divided into two segments - on the one side is the local or host population who have not been accused of witchcraft and are not residing in the witch camp, on the other side is the group of people who have been seen as morally compromised because of their association with witchcraft, and who reside in the witch camps. This paper explores the ways in which children – who are themselves not accused of witchcraft - are raised in spaces where their mothers or guardians carry the burden and stigma of being “witches” In the paper I discuss the children’s perceptions, understandings and experiences of growing up caring for women who are stigmatized. I am interested in children’s experiences of living in a divided society where they are viewed as “children of witches”. The paper is based on my ethnographic data collected during fieldwork in witch camps of northern Ghana. I suggest that the children growing up in witch camps face multiple vulnerabilities some of which are novel and distinct from those faced by children growing up outside the witch camps. My argument is that, notwithstanding the multiple vulnerabilities, the “children of witches” are availed some opportunities that are not available to children who are not raised in “witch camps”. The paper explores reproductive practices through the lens of kinship and care.
Author: Dr Megan Dance Cogburn (University of Florida)
Paper - Kin and care
“These are your family now”: Maternalism as Care and Control at a Tanzanian Maternity Waiting Home
Presenter
Dr Megan Dance Cogburn (University of Florida)
Authors
Dr Megan Dance Cogburn (University of Florida) - Primary Author
Maternity waiting homes are places where maternalism emerges as care and control for the high-risk pregnant women who inhabit them. In rural Mpwapwa district, Tanzania, antenatal care consists of nurses instructing women to go to the district hospital’s maternity waiting home, known locally as the Chigonela, long before expected due dates. Based on eight-months of ethnographic research at the Chigonela in 2019 and 2020, this paper highlights the complex ways ideas about “African” maternalism emerged in negotiations between Bibi Afya, a health officer, and pregnant residents of the Chigonela. While Bibi Afya’s routine hygiene and sanitation inspections seemed to operate as a form of State overreach and paternalistic control, she also used maternalistic forms of care to survey and mitigate the social and material risks exacerbated by the process of waiting. Sometimes Bibi Afya used biomedical discourse to negotiate material and social support for pregnant women at the Chigonela, who lacked essential food and supplies, yet did not have the power to speak to their relatives. Moreover, she encouraged women to observe and intercede on each other’s behalf, and at times, take on fictive kin-like roles to negotiate and deal with relatives who were not acting in accordance with sociocultural expectations. Bibi Afya’s maternalistic care, therefore, worked to mitigate social and material risks at the same time the impossible demands of her hygiene and sanitation inspections also reinforced them. A close look at maternity waiting homes highlights the complex way these spaces “reworld” what counts as maternalism, kinship, and care.
Author: Ms Q Vahed (University of Pretoria)
Paper - Kin and care
Serious leisure: An anthropological study of alternative kin-making practices amongst TCG players in urban Gauteng, South Africa.
Presenter
Ms Q Vahed (University of Pretoria)
Authors
Ms Q Vahed (University of Pretoria) - Primary Author
Anthropologists have illustrated how kin-making and reproduction go beyond blood relatives and genetic calculations by focusing their research on for example alternative kin-making practices. At the same time, the anthropology of leisure and the literature on popular culture often frame leisure as an expressive aspect of society, unrelated to questions of reproduction, and consumption as a passive act. The literature also shows that reproduction in cities requires those who live in cities to create new ways to make kin with strangers. This paper builds on anthropological research conducted in Gauteng with adult players of trading card games (TCGs), a leisure activity closely linked with the consumption of global popular culture in local situations. In this paper I argue that leisure activities such as TCGs, as one instance of contemporary popular culture, are not only expressive and passive but an important part of kin-making in the city.
Author: Dr L Owoko (University of Pretoria)
Paper - Kin and care
Exploring meanings and practices of care among teenage mothers in rural western Kenya
Presenter
Dr L Owoko (University of Pretoria)
Authors
Dr L Owoko (University of Pretoria) - Primary Author
Families have long been the primary source of care and support for teen mothers and their babies. However, within the household, intergenerational care is negotiated amidst competing demands on physical and financial resources. The context within which this care is offered has changed following teen mothers’ re-entry back to school, unreliable or non-existent support from teen fathers and their families, and the run-away cost of living. Consequently, we argue that different family members perceive care differently. This influences how, when, where, and with whom care is elicited, negotiated, and used within the household. Working with a purposive sample of 10 teenage mothers aged 15 – 19 years with children below 3 years; data was collected through individual in-depth interviews. Interlocutors were asked about meanings of care and how it was practiced within their homes. Using the concept of relatedness to explore meanings and practices of care, we found that teen mothers’ meanings of care were influenced by their personal aspirations. Care meant re-entry back to school, access and use of contraception, and caregiver discretion and secrecy concerning the baby’s father and any forms of support accruing from him and his family. In terms of practice, care became relational, with teen mothers focusing on the daily upkeep of the baby and themselves. We found teen mothers who were at pains with the relative competition between their personal needs and those of the baby. There was a feeling of ‘being second’ when it came to both physical and financial family attention. We concluded that meanings of care were differentiated from practices of care among the teen mothers. This went beyond the long-standing societal perceptions of daily upkeep to include personal aspirations. Caring for teen mothers thus required a multifaceted approach.
Author: Mr Neusa Torres (Wits )
Paper - Kin and care
"Being a mother is a lot" social representations of motherhood: narratives of young mothers participating in a clinical trial in Soweto
Presenter
Mr Neusa Torres (Wits )
Authors
Mr Neusa Torres (Wits ) - Primary Author
Abstract
The Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative (HeLTI) is a life-course trial that tests whether interventions in the early life period from preconception to early childhood might impact both maternal and child wellbeing. Partnering with HeLTI South Africa, the Trajectories study examine the logics and implications of preconception research to demonstrate the value of integrating ethnographic approaches in a trial and understand the social factors that shape life trajectories. We present a qualitative longitudinal research conducted in two waves with 60 (wave 1) and 45 (wave 2) women enrolled in HeLTI Trial in Soweto, Gauteng, South Africa. We explore the maternal subjectivity, the social representations and perceptions of motherhood, giving voice to women’s narratives on how becoming a mother influenced one's sense of self, practices, personal aspirations and life goals. In contrast to the scientific notion of ‘intergenerational transmissions’ that shape maternal and child health policies focused on preconception and maternal behaviors, we are concerned with how young women understand motherhood and intergenerational relations. We provide a nuanced picture of what constitutes family, kin and care in this context. These insights are crucial if scientific research and policy are to be contextually responsive.
Keywords: motherhood, social representations, intergenerational transmission, sense of self, women, Soweto.
Author: Dr S Ombere (University of Pretoria and Maseno University)
Paper - Kin and care
Redefining Fatherhood: Exploring the Roles of Fishermen in Childcare in Mageta Island, Western Kenya
Presenter
Dr S Ombere (University of Pretoria and Maseno University)
Authors
Dr S Ombere (University of Pretoria and Maseno University) - Primary Author
Traditionally, women have borne the primary responsibility for childcare, while men provided financial support. Western Kenyan fishing communities are characterized by the migration of men to neighboring beaches for fishing, leaving women to care for the families and household duties. In such contexts of migration, reproduction extends beyond the act of procreation and sometimes encompasses ‘distant’ or physical care and nurturing of children. The absence of men due to migration has forced them to redefine their roles as fathers. This paper interrogates women's perspectives on how migration and the absence of fathers redefined fatherhood on Mageta Island. Women argued that a majority of their husbands were actively involved in childcare before and after birth. Fatherhood is redefined on the island through:- psychosocial support to pregnant women by men, and employing other women to help their pregnant wives with chores at home. After birth, men participated in tasks such as bathing, feeding, and playing with their children and sometimes sending money to buy food at home. Such acts challenge traditional gender roles and demonstrate a profound commitment to the upbringing of the children on the island. Additionally, some women stated that fathers also took on the roles of primary caregivers, allowing women to engage in economic activities without the burden of childcare. This article thus endeavors to describe how redefining fatherhood on the island remakes reproductive norms.
Keywords: Anthropology, gender equality, Kenya, reimagining fatherhood, Mageta island, masculinity
Author: Dr William Muchono (Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University)
Paper - Kin and care
BRIDGING GENERATIONAL GAPS FOR CONTINUITY IN SOCIAL TIES AND KINSHIP NETWORK
Presenter
Dr William Muchono (Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University)
Authors
Dr William Muchono (Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University) - Primary Author
Mr Jigu Katsande (Midlands State University)
Mr Justin Makota (Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University)
This qualitative research study sought to investigate the strategies and dynamics involved in
bridging generational gaps to sustain social ties and kinship networks. It also sought to shed light on the qualitative aspects of bridging generational gaps, offering a comprehensive understanding of how individuals and communities navigate changing social environments to sustain meaningful social ties and kinship networks across different age groups. The study recognised the importance of intergenerational connections in maintaining continuity amidst changing social environments. By employing qualitative research techniques, including interviews, focus groups, and observations, the researchers gained in-depth insights into the experiences, perceptions, and practices of individuals and communities in bridging generational gaps. The study involved a diverse sample of participants from various age groups, (15-25 years), (26-30 years), (31-40 years), (41-50 years) and those over 50 years. Through purposive sampling, 20 participants, that is 4 from each group, were selected to ensure representation and diversity. Data generation involved in-depth interviews to capture individual perspectives, focus groups to facilitate intergenerational dialogue, and
observations of intergenerational activities and interactions. The analysis of the collected data involved a thematic approach, identifying patterns, themes, and commonalities across
participant responses. Themes were derived from the data and interpreted to understand the strategies employed by individuals and communities to bridge generational gaps. Results showed that generational gaps now pose challenges to maintaining strong intergenerational relationships, leading to a potential breakdown in social ties and kinship networks. It was also found that differences in communication styles, values, and preferences between generations contribute to the widening of generational gaps. Technology was found to play a significant role in shaping intergenerational relationships, with varying degrees of digital literacy and access affecting communication and connection. To this end, it is therefore recommended that there is need for open and respectful communication channels that allow different generations to share their experiences, perspectives, and values. There is need to encourage the use of technology platforms and tools that facilitate intergenerational communication, ensuring that older adults have access to digital resources and training to bridge the digital divide.

Keywords: kinship, generational gaps, mentorship, social environments, communities
Author: Dr A.A Nyabundi (University of Pretoria)
Paper - Kin and care
Integrated Care during the Perinatal Period for Women in Rural Western Kenya
Presenter
Dr A.A Nyabundi (University of Pretoria)
Authors
Dr A.A Nyabundi (University of Pretoria) - Primary Author
The interplay between rurality and cultural expectations makes it necessary to understand how mothers with postpartum depression are cared for and supported towards achieving their own health back and ensuring no compromise on the child’s health. Studies indicate that one in five women will experience a mental health condition during the perinatal period (pregnancy and period up to a year after birth). Yet research has not adequately addressed the unique characteristics of rural contexts that influence caregiving for women during the perinatal period, which contributes to their mental health conditions such as postpartum depression. This paper argues for integrated care for women’s mental health during the perinatal period within the rural context. Specifically, this paper looks at the interaction of the facilitating and disabling factors that create complex situations for the mental health of women in the perinatal period in rural contexts in Africa, how families in the rural contexts offer care for mothers suffering from postpartum depression and lastly, how can the health facilities include family, community and cultural expectations for the better mental health of pregnant women in African rural contexts. Through a review of the literature, this paper found that perinatal anxiety and depression remain high given the current economic hardships, conflicts in and among countries, extreme poverty, displacements and changing structures of families and trauma, calling for creative integrated caregiving strategies for pregnant women for their mental health and that of the unborn child and eventually the infant.
Author: Dr HB Bastian (Wheaton College)
Paper - Kin and care
WhatsApp Kin and Digital Doulas: How Cuban women use mobile internet to care for each other, challenge Obstetric Violence and prevent Premature Breastfeeding Cessation.
Presenter
Dr HB Bastian (Wheaton College)
Authors
Dr HB Bastian (Wheaton College) - Primary Author
Despite the state’s continued self-identification as a “Socialist Revolution,” in post-Soviet Cuba new mothers are acutely affected by collapsing state care infrastructures. This paper explores the affordances of a novel technology, 4G mobile internet, for creating communities of practice around mothering that act as alternative care infrastructures. As a permanent resident and professor at the University of Havana during my own matrescence [transition to motherhood] in Cuba, I describe my engagements with digital ethnographic methods and virtual communities created in WhatsApp, Facebook, and Telegram by Cuban women. While the national public health system and formal spaces of political participation are often organized territorially, mobile technologies facilitate new forms of kin-making, connecting strangers going through similar experiences to help expand relational networks and take care of each other. The mutual support extended through these networks help women take on new social roles as mothers in a moment of extreme precarity and cascading crises in which state infrastructures fail to meet their needs. Through these new forms of sociability, women are challenging the metric-centric, rather than patient-centered, nature of Cuban health care. Challenging authoritative knowledge about reproductive practices, they argue that many biomedical protocols intended to mitigate risk actually create new risks for women and babies. I discuss obstetric violence and premature breastfeeding cessation in Cuba within this framework.
Author: Mr ()
Paper - Kin and care
Reworlding the maternity ward: Where do we go from here?
Presenter
Mr ()
Authors
Mr () - Primary Author
Based on ethnographic work with nurse-midwives in three regions of Tanzania since 2010, in this paper I explore how professional midwives have navigated changes to their profession and grapple with the legacies of colonialism in their training and care practices. I argue that their experiences and perspectives, drawing on local values of kinship and locally important forms of care, are vital for radically rethinking maternity care in Africa. Nurse midwives are key actors in social reproduction both through their instrumental labor of assisting at births and their transmission of values of locally ideal motherhood. Their social role is often overlooked in pursuit of better clinical outcomes, ignoring both midwives’ social identities embedded in their communities and their ward, and the importance of these in their interactions with parturient women. Tanzanian midwives draw on local moralities to shape care and kinship in the maternity ward, pushing back on external demands for certain forms of clinical care that often devalued and displaced other forms of care. Even as women call in midwives, invoking kin relations of sister or aunt, for example, overworked and under-resourced midwives have little reserves with which to respond to these invocations of care. To improve women’s experiences of maternity care, we must reimagine what a caring system might look like in places such as Tanzania. We can do so based on the values and visions of parturient women but, critically, we must also include the visions of those meant to uphold the system- the nurse midwives themselves.
Author: Mr Simon Njoroge (Northwest University)
Paper - Kin and care
Kinship Care as 'Alternative’? Decolonizing Alternative Care in Africa
Presenter
Prof KE Cheney (University of Victoria)
Authors
Mr Simon Njoroge (Northwest University) - Primary Author
In Kenya, childcare is a communal endeavor involving extended family, clan, and close friends based on a fluid understanding of kin and family ties, and a culture of long-term reciprocity where children would in return care for the elderly. However, this model of care was strained by diminishing social services after the introduction of structural adjustment programs. The model’s efficacy was further compromised by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, resulting in the emergence of orphanages as a response. Consequently, the UN adopted the Guidelines on Alternative Care of Children in 2010 to provide direction for policy and practice concerning children without parental care. However, the Guidelines implicitly defined ‘family’ within the Eurocentric concept of the nuclear family and prioritized ‘permanence’ as the overall objective of care. Kinship care with its fluidity was thus categorized as ‘alternative’ and not ‘parental care’.
This paper argues that the designation of kinship care as ‘alternative’ is a misnomer in Kenya: it dislocates care from its cultural underpinnings, diminishes the competence of traditional care systems while centring developmental, administrative, and judicial ‘expertise’ and prioritizes short-term material gain and status over long-term reciprocity in kin-based reproduction and childrearing practices. We will discuss how this consequently dilutes the quality of childcare and promotes further disintegration of families and communities. Finally, we consider how Kenyan families are challenging this paradigm.
Author: Dr E Mavodza (ETH Zurich)
Paper - Kin and care
The socio-cultural life of Assisted Human Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) among educated Black women in South Africa
Presenter
Dr E Mavodza (ETH Zurich)
Authors
Dr E Mavodza (ETH Zurich) - Primary Author
Infertility is a major health problem in both developed countries and emerging economies of the global south. Statistically, infertility affects one in six people worldwide (WHO 2023). Although a global problem, most research on infertility and infertility treatments focuses on the Global North. This project seeks to expand our knowledge of reproductive problems and possibilities by exploring the socio-cultural life of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) in South Africa. The project focuses on educated Black women who voluntarily choose to postpone childbearing and are faced with age related fertility decline. The reproductive shift to delay childbearing has led to high demand of ARTs among these educated women, who seek new possibilities for fulfilling expectations about motherhood and practices of kin making. Fearing the social stigma childlessness, educated Black women increasingly make use of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and other fertility treatments. In order to understand the norms and values influencing ARTs usage among black women in South Africa, this paper considers their reproductive health histories, experiences of infertility, reproductive choices, knowledge of ARTs and issues of access. The project employed a qualitative approach using ethnographic methods, participant observation, interviews, and participant diaries to understand the lived experiences of educated black women in South Africa with selected ARTs. The paper addresses the following questions:
What are the socio-cultural norms and values concerning reproduction through ARTs? What are the experiences of black, educated career women in SA with IVF? And what does this tell us about the reproductive futures of black women in South Africa? The relevance of the project goes beyond the selected sample of black women in Pretoria: apart from methodological empirical and conceptual contributions, the findings and subsequent analysis is critical for decentralising knowledge production about infertility and reproductive technologies within the African context. This is a critical step towards a holistic understanding of the nuances, contradictions, opportunities and challenges in achieving global reproductive health goals on one hand and diverse normative practices on the other.
Author: Mr ()
Paper - Kin and care
Captive Maternals, Maternal Regret and Intimate Partner Violence
Presenter
Mr ()
Authors
Mr () - Primary Author
Kholwa, a survivor of intimate partner violence (IPV) at a Magistrate’s court outside Cape Town, told me: “I should have left a long time ago. I made it worse by having a child.” Although she’d always imagined becoming a mother, the circumstances of her pregnancy felt compromised—she’d been hoping to leave the abusive relationship, but “forced sex” led to unplanned pregnancy, and she decided to stay so that her child had a father and economic support. Despite the social value and respect accorded to mothers in South Africa, many IPV survivors instead inhabit the onerous position of captive maternals (James 2016), bound to remain in abusive relationships “for the sake of our children.” Configurations of kinship and care become warped and manipulated in spaces of intimate violence, where reproductive and maternal expectations become another vector of abuse. Survivors experience what I theorize as maternal regret, immense shame and guilt for the timing and circumstances of their pregnancies. Yet mothers also risk being criminalized for unintentionally exposing their children (even unborn) to violence within the home, turning victims into “perpetrators” through mandatory reporting mechanisms under the Domestic Violence Amendment Act. Drawing upon two years of ethnographic fieldwork amongst IPV survivors around Cape Town, South Africa, I take up the lens of carcerality and captive maternals to consider how reproduction, violence and the law conspire to reinforce “cycles of abuse” and how a more liberatory maternal and reproductive politics might be articulated in its place.
Author: Prof E. Coast (London School of Economics)
Showcase - Kin and care
Self-managed abortion, feminist transnational movements, and care in crises
Presenter
Prof E. Coast (London School of Economics)
Authors
Prof E. Coast (London School of Economics) - Primary Author
Dr R. Nandagiri (King's College London)
Dr Kinga Jelinska (Women Help Women)
Dr L. Berro Pizzarossa (Uni of Birtmingham)
Dr C. Wenham (London School of Economics)
Panel proposal

Theme: Kin and care

Panel Title: Self-managed abortion, feminist transnational movements, and care in crises: WHW feminist organising during COVID-19

Chair: Dr Rishita Nandagiri

Panel abstract
Self-managed abortion (SMA) requires us to interrogate how we imagine abortion and the constellation of actors enabling it (Nandagiri & Berro Pizzarossa, 2023). Health emergencies (COVID-19, Zika), rather than creating new forms of injustice, render visible existing structural violence and inequities in abortion access and care and long-standing systems of classism, racism, (neo)colonialism, cis-hetero patriarchies and neoliberalism. Women Help Women (WHW) a feminist non-profit organisation that runs a global online service providing counselling and access to abortion pills via post, works with more than 120 partner groups worldwide on community interventions and changes the norms and discourse around abortion. This five paper online panel presents diverse insights (gendered, temporal, legal) into the ways in which feminist transnational organising by WHW during health emergencies offers new understanding of the kinds of care giving and care receiving it allows.

Panel mode: synchronous zoom or pre-recorded

Panellists and papers [paper abstracts below]
Lucía Berro Pizzarossa: Constellations, crises and care: the role of Women Help
Women in COVID19-shaped abortion trajectories
Ernestina Coast: Temporalities of COVID SMA care-seeking: evidence from
WHW care during COVID-19
Kinga Jelinska: We all are Justynas – the cautionary tale about the
criminalization of providers and supporters of self-managed abortion in Poland.
Joe Strong: “I really need your help. I don't want anything bad to happen to
her”: Typologies of men’s involvement in SMA care-seeking during COVID-19.
Clare Wenham: Seeking abortion amid a health emergency


Constellations, crises and care: the role of Women Help Women in COVID19-shaped abortion trajectories [Berro Pizzarossa]

COVID-19, while exacerbating persistent social and structural inequities that shape and influence healthcare including abortion, also made self-managed abortion (SMA) more visible. Lockdowns altered conditions (economic, social, political) and prior conceptualisations of abortion as always requiring medical oversight. Self-administered MA as a viable and valid method was legitimised for gatekeepers - policymakers and medical professionals - that define “acceptable” abortion methods. This shift reframed SMA potentially enabling agency and autonomy even under restrictive conditions. In Poland, the cumulative impact of the pandemic and the de facto abortion ban (October 2020) further complicated abortion trajectories. Women Help Women (WHW) is a feminist organisation providing abortion support globally. We analysed quantitative and qualitative data from Polish abortion requests for support from WHW’s online consultations during COVID-19 [April-Dec 2020]. Our analyses of qualitative email communications and quantitative consultation data forms (n=8,577) shows the impact of the crises on access to abortion and the role of WHW as a fundamental component of the constellation of actors that—working locally and transnationally—enabled safe(r) SMA trajectories. SMA appears as a potential means to circumvent or grapple with the crises in a way that centres the needs of abortion seekers. Care-seekers’ expressions of commitments and actions to support abortion also highlights the transformative power of feminist care ethics and resistance. Building on this, we show how the support provided by WHW is a critical factor in enabling safe(r) abortion trajectories but is also essential to challenging and altering the meanings of abortion and abortion provision itself.


Temporalities of COVID SMA care-seeking: evidence from WHW care during COVID-19 [Coast]

Abortion is tied to time and timing, whether medical (e.g., gestational duration) or legal (e.g., mandatory wait periods) regulations or individual life circumstances (e.g., ‘not the right time’). Time and timing is also impacted by delays – in pregnancy awareness, in decision-making, in care-seeking and in receiving care, with implications for the kind of care that is (not) available. Abortion decision-making is tied to both immediate concerns or priorities (i.e., ‘right now’) and to future plans and hopes (i.e. ‘later on’). Despite how time-dependent abortion processes are, time remains relatively under theorised within abortion research. Seeking to respond to this gap in the literature, this paper presents analyses of evidence from people who sought care for self-managed abortion from WHW during COVID-19 to illuminate the ways in which time is critically interwoven with people’s trajectories of self-managed abortion. The qualitative analyses in this paper are a secondary analysis of data captured by WHW via an online consultation form and subsequent e-mail communications as part of their routine service provision. Viewing time as plural and using the abortion trajectories framework (Coast et al, 2016), the analyses interrogate reflects on the implications of different temporalities – legal time, bodily time, relational time, societal time - and understandings (e.g., present and future time) in abortion-seekers’ trajectories.


We all are Justynas – the cautionary tale about the criminalization of providers and supporters of self-managed abortion in Poland. [Jelinska]

Justyna Wydrzy?„ska from Poland has worked as an abortion doula since 2006, founded the hotline and forum Women on the Net, and co-founded the Abortion Dream Team. The Abortion Dream Team is part of Abortion Without Borders, a European feminist network that provides funding and practical support to people in Poland who need an abortion abroad, or access to reliable online sources to obtain abortion medicines through foundations like Women Help Women. Abortion Without Borders has supported over 125 000 people from Poland to have safe abortions in the last 2 years.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, when European borders were closing, Justyna sent her own set of abortion pills to a woman in a domestic violence situation. Despite the fact that self-managed abortion is recommended by the WHO, Justyna is a competent provider, telemedicine gaining traction in mainstream practices during the pandemic, and massive support to her action, Justyna faced criminal trial and was sentenced. The objective of the session is to share strategies of defense for providers of self-managed abortion, as well as provoke reflection and action from our movement in relation to the utter incompatibility of local legal regimes on medical abortion provision with the recommendations based on public health evidence and human rights standards. This story happened in Poland, but is a cautionary tale for all of us, as abortion pills remain over-regulated and medicalized worldwide, and competent providers like Justyna risk criminalization everywhere, including in countries with so called liberal legal abortion regimes.


“I really need your help. I don't want anything bad to happen to her”: Typologies of men’s involvement in SMA care-seeking during COVID-19. [Strong]

Self-managed abortions involve a constellation of actors (Berro Pizzarossa and Nandagiri 2021). Men are embedded among these actors, shaping the conditions that a pregnant person navigates when seeking care. Abortions are both directly and indirectly influenced by men, their idealised masculinities, and the contextual and structural situations and changes that impact them.
There is a paucity of research interrogating men’s location within self-managed abortion and the complex, varied, and sometimes incongruous roles they can have in both navigating and exacerbating reproductive injustices. This paper presents the analysis of data from people seeking care for self-managed abortion from WHW during COVID-19. Qualitative analysis of consultation forms and e-mails is used to construct the typologies of men who are involved in self-managed abortion trajectories. This includes how men are framed by pregnant people in their communications, as well as data from men who contacted WHW directly. Data were analysed using the theoretical lens of hegemonic masculinities to critically examine the manifestation of gendered, masculine norms within abortion trajectories.
Men acted as both barriers and facilitators for women accessing care. This included in providing financial, emotional, and physical support, and directly liaising with feminist collectives. Men’s loss of income or jobs due to the effects of COVID-19 exposed and complicated gendered environments that pregnant people reported having to navigate in their abortion trajectories. Men were also sources of complications and threat, particularly problematic in the political context of Poland, and pregnant people navigated their abortions to maintain autonomy away from their partners.


Seeking abortion amid a health emergency [Wenham]

Accessing abortion during health emergencies presents unique challenges. These are both supply side challenges, such as the distortion of routine provision of services if termination of pregnancy is considered “non-essential” during a health crisis or supply-chain disruption to medical abortion medication; and these exist on the demand side if women are, or feel as if they are, unable to get to a service provider during times of public health restriction, or they fear infection if visiting a health facility. In particular locations where there are further legal and/or practical restrictions on accessing such services, the challenges of getting an abortion during a health emergency are even more challenging, such as mobility restrictions, social distancing so an inability to engage informally with community groups, and border closures meaning that those who are able to travel to terminate a pregnancy are no longer able to. This is compounded by the fact that amid a crisis, many women may be more inclined to end a pregnancy, fearing the health or economic impacts that this may have in a time of financial and social uncertainty. Using data from women contacting Women Help Women this paper considers the realities of seeking an abortion in restrictive locations during both the Zika outbreak (2015-6) and the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-). Whilst the pathogenic nature of these health emergencies were different, and as such were the public health interventions introduced to mitigate the disease’s spread, we saw increased numbers of women seeking the services of WHW compared to baseline. Moreover, despite the differences in threat, and women’s realities in different parts of the world, there was chilling similarities between women’s decision making concerning termination of pregnancy. These included concerns about the pathogen affecting their unborn child; financial ruin; and mental health concerns amid the mothers.
Important Dates
Conference Duration
16 September 2024 09:00 - 19 September 2024 17:00
Registration
1 March 2024 - 30 June 2024 [OPEN]
Call For Abstracts
27 November 2023 - 17 April 2024
Re-Worlding Reproduction
Organiser
Name
Ms C Visagie
Contact Email
[email protected]
Contact Number
0832310393
Streams
  • Reproductive knowledges
  • Rights, justice, ethics
  • (In)fertile environments
  • Globalisation, mobilities, and markets
  • Race, nation, and governance
  • Kin and care
  • Test