Cambridge Interdisciplinary Reproduction Forum (CIRF)

24 November 2009, 17:00 - 19:00

CRASSH 17 Mill Lane

Between access and neo-eugenics. An intersectional queer-crip perspective on notions of reproductive subjectivity and new reproductive technologies



Dr des Ute Kalender,  

Institut für Kulturwissenschaften, Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies (ZTG), Graduate School 'Gender as a Category of Knowledge', Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany





Reproduction, reproductive subjectivity and new reproductive technologies form key topics of gender and queer studies as well as of disability studies. However, between these approaches there has been little exchange yet and each of them contains crucial gaps: Whereas gender theory reflects neo-eugenic aspects of new reproductive technologies, its notions of the reproductive subject often display a heteronormative bias. Queer approaches underline the fragmentation of the reproductive subject and the exclusions of queers from the category of a desired reproductive subject, but often reduce discussions on new reproductive technologies to a mere question of accessibility: Neo-eugenic aspects of these technologies are not dealt with. Finally, disability studies provides sophisticated approaches towards neo-eugenics, but mostly relies on heteronormative gender assumptions: The fact that the reproductive subject is always also a gendered one is often ignored.




The central claim of my paper therefore is that the complexity ofreproductive subjectivation in the context of new reproductive technologies can just be grasped adequately, if an intersectional approach is applied. Firstly, the paper maps reproductive settings considering situative knowledge of people who are classified as disabled and queer. The analogies and dissents between their situations shall be delineated. Secondly, the paper tries to develop an intersectional approach towards reproductive subjectivation in the context of new reproductive technologies, which considers insights of gender, queer and disability studies.






Dr des Ute Kalender is a lecturer at the Institut für Kulturwissenschaften and the Department for Gender Studies at Humboldt-University of Berlin. She was research fellow at BIOS Centre, London School of Economics and worked at the Berlin Institute Mensch, Ethik und Wissenschaft, which strengthens the perspectives of people with disabilities on the life sciences and on new reproductive technologies. Her primary research interests include feminist disability studies, queer crip theory and intersectional approaches towards reproductive subjectivity and the life sciences. She is currently working on a project, which examines the role played by the categories of gender, disability and heteronormativity in the ‘renaissance’ of epigenetics and will begin her research fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Science, Technology and Society (IAS-STS) in Graz in January 2010.



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