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Cultural Conceptions: On Reproductive Technologies and the Remaking of Life
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Cultural Conceptions: On Reproductive Technologies and the Remaking of Life (Paperback)

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When a baby can be made in a test tube, when embryos can be frozen for later fertilization, when a woman can carry to term a child that shares none of her genetic material, what is natural about the creation of life? This is the question addressed by Valerie Hartouni in her consideration of the cultural effects of new reproductive technologies as expressed in video images, popular journalism, scientific debates, legal briefs and policy decisions. This text tracks the circulation and communication of various myths, images, and stories pertaining to new reproductive technologies and their effects, both imagined and real, during the last two decades. While addressing topics ranging from surrogacy and cloning to adoption and abortion, the author analyzes culture for clues to what these manifestations tell us about issues of personhood, be they race, gender, or class-based. She finds both the emergence of new anxieties about the nature of selfhood and the recurrence of old myths about individuality, sexuality, property and family.

The burdens caused by these cultural concerns have fallen disproportionately on women, particularly women of colour, as the political apparatus attempts to adjust to societal changes in the face of demographic and technological change. The book traces the dialectic between crisis and containment unleashed by reproductive technologies, and illustrates the degree to which at the end of this century we are still living out the dreams and nightmares of the previous ones. Ultimately, however, the author argues that the anxiety around new reproductive technologies provides openings for alternative understandings and tentative challenges to implant themselves.

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