Seminar – Feminism and New Reproductive Technologies

Life Cycles Seminar Series
Institute of Historical Research
Senate House, London WC1E
Tuesdays, 5.15 p.m, Pollard room

08/02/2011, 5.15 p.m, Prof. Veronique Mottier (Cambridge) ‘Feminism and New Reproductive Technologies’

This talk will examine the role and impact of new reproductive technologies on current politics of the body. Whereas practices such as abortion and contraception have been primarily considered as individual technologies, and their access framed in terms of women’s individual rights, in more recent years, the emergence of new reproductive technologies has given rise to increasingly medicalised public debates questioning the scope for individual choice. I will explore early feminist responses to such developments, ranging from the early years of second wave feminism when Firestone famously suggested that the problematic linking of woman and nature could be dissolved through artificial reproduction and contraception, and that technology would free women from the constraints of motherhood; to more sceptical views of the potential benefits of new reproductive technologies by authors such as Stanworth who feared that  those in control of reproductive technologies would gain ‘unprecedented control’ over motherhood itself. Against the backdrop of such early feminist debates, I shall examine current problematisations of reproductive technologies which no longer tend to centre on whether these are intrinsically ‘good’ or ‘bad’, to focus instead on their gendered effects and implications for individual and collective agency – including effects on gay and lesbian politics.

We usually go for a drink and a meal afterwards.


Dr Ofra Koffman (King’s College)
Dr Mary Clare Martin (University of Greenwich)
Dr Leonard Schwarz (University of Birmingham)