Julie Livingston & Jennifer Morgan
Tues. & Thurs. 11:00-12:15pm
(Also fulfulls the US major requirement)
Race and reproduction share a long and intimate relationship in the histories of slavery, industrialization, colonialism, nationalism, and more recently, globalization. From the policies, priorities, and perversions of slave owners, to the pronatalist campaigns of colonial Africa, to the family planning programs that are a hallmark of liberalism and development in the post-colonial world, and most recently the promotion of assisted reproduction technologies among western elites, race and reproduction have always been among the primary axes on which large scale political, economic, cultural, social, and intellectual processes are configured. Activities around race and reproduction are of vital interest to us because they have been primary sites in the exercise of power, and in the production of knowledge, as processes that are fundamental to political, material, and moral order. Because reproduction connects the intimate experiences of individuals to larger historical structures and forces, and because reproduction is such a fundamental (if varied) biological and social experience, this topic in particular lends itself to comparative work. In this course we will explore issues in the history of race and reproduction, across a range of contexts, though we will focus particularly on North America. This cross-cultural breadth will help us to consider the relationship between biological experiences (which are often portrayed as universal) and socio-cultural and political context. While questions about biology will be central to this history, we will also locate biology within a wider set of issues around social reproduction and the practices of parenthood. Though our readings we will consider how different disciplinary orientations (social history, medical anthropology, feminist theory, art history etc.) approach the history of reproduction both methodologically, theoretically, and in terms of narrative and analytic strategies.