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(Un)making Families: Representations of Reproductive Technologies and the Politics of Family in Contemporary American Culture

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Jenny Bonnevier

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This project explores representations of assisted reproductive technology in US culture between ca 1985 and 2015. It deals with representations in different media such as mainstream and popular fiction, television series and film. It also examines debates on the topic in political contexts and journalistic media such as news sites and newspapers. Finally, participant narratives are also analyzed. This plurality of materials enable multi-faceted explorations of how representations of reproductive technologies figure in contemporary US society; additionally, the materials also make possible an engagement with questions of how different cultural fields function, interact with and impact each other, through the tracing of tropes and themes as they travel across and between these fields.

The foundational claim of the project is that the questions raised in connection with new reproductive practices are at the heart of how we construct ourselves as individuals and as a society, rather than “simply” being legal or medical concerns. That kinship and nation are connected is not a new thought, but reproductive technologies challenge some of those connections in new ways. Through critically interrogating how discourses on family and kinship intersect with ideas about nation in the rapidly growing cultural and social texts centering on reproductive technologies, we can reach new understandings of both family and nation as well as the relationship between them.