Notes from Prague: Probing the Boundaries of Reproduction, take two

Origins, Bodies, Transitions, Futures

IMG_9157It was brisk today. The pale blue sky was spotted with passing clouds outside the windows of our presentation room at Michna Palace. The conference continues, and on my way to the center, I snapped the photo at left–bodies, part and whole, marching down a staircase: an appropriate metaphor perhaps, for humanity, always in a state of becoming.

May 13, 2013
We began with Session 3: Mad, Bad and Dangerous: Narratives of Abortion, Adoption and Surrogacy in De-Naturalising Maternal Desire. This title reflected the complications of gendered agency covered by the panel papers:

Abortion, Addiction, and Maternal Cures: Irene Vilar’s Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict
Mary Thompson
James Madison University, USA

“Give me children, or else I die”: Motherhood, Murder and Baby-hunger in Sarah Dunant’s Crime Thriller Birth Marks
Modhumita Roy
Tufts University, USA

Regulating Desire: Globalised Fertility, “Free Choice” and the Boundaries of Law
Rachel Fenton
Bristol Law School, United Kingdom

Session 4: Maternal Voices: Oppression, Agency and Resistance included three papers (rather than two, as the program suggests; we did some last-minute rearranging!)

The Possibilities and Limitations of Bodily Involvement: Pregnancy, Gender Equality, and “the Other Body”
Malin Noem Ravn
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

‘It saved my life”: Mother Groups, Consciousness Raising and the National Association of Mother Centres: A Model for Maternal Empowerment
Andrea O’Reilly
York University, Canada

The Incubator Intimacy: An Ethnography of Daily Care Practices Inside a Neonatology Intensive Care Unit
Line Rochat Noël
Laboratory of cultural and social anthropology, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

After lunch, we returned for our last two sessions of the day. In Session 5, we heard three excellent papers on reproductive policy, reproductive rights–and “helicopter” parenting. The combination of issues really fueled discussion, and there were quite a few chuckles as we reflected on the parenting styles we, ourselves, are most familiar with (including the ‘negotiation of punishment’ carried out by almost any child with the ability to speak!)

Session 5: Reproductive Policy, Reproductive Rights

Reproductive Rights and Construction of National Identity in Poland
Ewelina Ciaputa
Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

Israeli Reproductive Policy: Conscripted Wombs or Re-Winding the Biological Clock?
Hannah Ovnat-Tamir
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

The Politics of Intensive Parenting
Brian Duff
Department of Political Science, University of New England, USA

Finally, our last panel spoke about form and function–from cyborg’s and “birthing machines” to congenital deformity and the monstrous body of Richard III.

Session 6: Form and Function: Medicine, Mechanics and Motherhood

This Curious Machine: Bodies, Babies and the Mechanical Woman
Brandy Schillace
Managing Editor of CMP, Case Western University, USA

Metamorphosis Unplugged. The Meanings of the Changing Female Body for Critiques on Identity, Class and Gender as it is shown in James Tiptree Jr.’s The Girl Who Was Plugged In
Christina Lammer
Graduate School Literary Studies, Free University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Deformities in Shakespeare’s King Richard III
Hanako Endo
Jissen Women’s University, Tokyo, Japan

We hope you will join us here again on May 14 for more–and please follow us at #IDnetR!

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