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Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology: Events


Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: 20th Anniversary Symposium

Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: 20th Anniversary Symposium
Hosted by: Lucy Lowe # EdCMA
Hosted by
Introduced by
Date and Time
7th Nov 2019 00:00 - 8th Nov 2019 00:00
Violet Laidlaw Room, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 15a George Square, University of Edinburgh, EH21 6AN

This year marks twenty years since the publication of Professor Rayna Rapp’s seminal monograph Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America. This ethnography, an award-winning classic text of feminist and medical anthropology, has inspired a generation of scholars working on reproduction, disability, genetics, bioethics, and parenting. This monograph takes us to the complex intersection of intimate family relationships, cutting-edge medical technology, race, genetic counselling, and obstetric care, underscored by classic anthropological concerns with kinship and inheritance. Rapp’s question, ‘What does scientific literacy mean in a culture as deeply stratified as our own?’ is perhaps even more pertinent in 2019 than it was in 1999.

Reproductive technologies have developed apace in the two decades since this ground-breaking ethnography was published, as transnational scientific communities continually produce new frontiers in reproductive science and genetic technology. This period of medical advancement has been fostered in shifting spaces of reproductive politics. Laws on access to contraceptives, abortion, and assisted reproductive technologies have remained the most visible, but by no means the entirety of reproductive politics, where we continue to witness ‘the intersection of personal pain and national politics.’ The theoretical challenges in Testing Women continue to be relevant. Where can we locate ‘moral pioneers’ in contemporary medical settings? How can we make ethnographic research speak to both anthropological and medical communities?

This symposium will draw together scholars inspired by Testing Women, Testing the Fetus to explore its continued theoretical contribution in present and future research. 

Symposium schedule: 

Thursday 7th November

10:30 Welcome – Lucy Lowe and Khiara M. Bridges

11:00 Panel 1: Masculinity

• Gaurav Lamichhane Involuntary Childlessness in Nepal: Semen, Male Infertility, Masculinity

• Jennifer Speirs DNA testing and gamete donor anonymity

12.30 Lunch

13.30: Panel 2: Making Worlds

• Lucy Lowe Forced Migrants, Moral Pioneers: Reproductive Decision-Making in Displacement

• Angel Foster and L.L. Wynn Mifepristone abortion and the limitations of our language: How new abortion technologies are transforming medical surveillance and the legibility of women’s bodies

• Roslyn Malcolm “It Just Opens Up Their World”: Affording Autistic Diversity in Horse Therapy in the UK and USA.

15.00 Coffee

15.30 – Panel 3: Race, Class, and Reproductive Politics

• Dána-Ain Davis (pre-recorded video)

• Khiara Bridges

• Andrea Ford Paid family members': doulas, reproductive stratification, and American politics

• Veronique Griffith Methodological Challenges to Women-Centered Analysis

Friday 8th November

09.30 Panel 4: Testing

• Stefan Reinsch and Anika König No more Excuses not to Test Your Fetus for Down Syndrome? Moral Pioneers in the Era of Non-Invasiveness.

• Hannah McInnes-Dean Embodying worry: Gendered responsibility in tentative pregnancy

• Tsipy Ivry Structural Moral Ambivalence and the Virtue of indecision

11.30: coffee

12.00 Professor Janet Carsten - Reflections and Discussion

13.30 Lunch

14.00 Social Anthropology Coffee – Participants are welcome to join the weekly Social Anthropology pre-seminar coffee

In Seminar Room 1, Chrystal Macmillan Building - as part of the EdCMA Annual Lecture: 15.00: Professor Rayna Rapp "Banking on DNA: The Ever-Expanding Horizon of Prenatal Genetic Testing and Reproductive Technology" 

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