BIRTH The Cultural Politics of Reproduction

An interdisciplinary conference hosted by the Institute for Advanced Studies, Lancaster University, Wednesday 7th March 2007

New health practices and technologies are rapidly transforming cultural understandings and individual experiences of reproduction. As a consequence of these changes 'birth' (by which we mean not only childbirth but the range of embodied, social and cultural practices associated with reproduction and parenting) has become the site of intensive academic research. BIRTH aims to create a dialogue between different disciplinary approaches to reproduction.Through a focus on the cultural politics of reproduction, this event aims to bring together academics and researchers from across the social sciences and humanities working in the area of reproduction, pregnancy, birthing, parenting and childcare.

This call for papers encourages the submission of abstracts that address the theme of birth, be that birth practices, birth stories, representations of birth, technologies of childbirth, issues of infertility, or birth as a metaphor for female identity, through a consideration of the cultural, sexual, economic, and institutional contexts from which these experiences of birth emerge.

Possible Themes

Birth Narratives and Body Stories: historical and changing myths of birth, Birth as rite of passage, secrets, shame, injury and birth, maternal monsters, race, ethnicity and birth, the new visual cultures of birth (including representations of birth in literature, television, theatre, film and other media forms), new consumer cultures of birth. Feminist and queer retellings of, `disabled` birth, male `pregnancies`, and `male reproduction`.

The Birthing Subject: feminist philosophies of birth and embodiment, pregnant embodiment, birth as a metaphor for rethinking female identities.

Childbirth: the birthing experience, medical and health practices associated with childbirth (pre-natal, intrapartum and post-natal), Prenatal Diagnostic Screening, genetic testing and engineering and IVF, and the impact of these health technologies on the meaning of childbirth, maternal agency within childbirth, alternative childbirth movements, pain and childbirth, the new legal cultures of childbirth, access to maternal health services, class and economic aspects of childbirth and fertility, Maternal Mortality and Childbirth Injury.

Reproductive `Failure`: discourses of infertility, `Failed` births, 'Barren' women, abortion, contraception, family planning, the foetal subject, pro-life politics, intentional childlessness, new mythologies of `having it all`, forced abortion, surrogacy, Sterilization and Human Rights, Reproductive Policies and Practices in non-Western contexts, The Politics of Below-Replacement Fertility.

Please send abstracts of 500 words to Imogen Tyler, < <> > , by October 6th 2006.

Non -speakers can enroll for the event as a participant by contacting the conference administrator June Rye, < <> > . Please include full contact details with your conference registration email. Please note that places will be limited.

In due course we will send out and publish online the full conference information (including details of accommodation and travel). This event is fully funded and there will be no conference fee.

Imogen Tyler Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies UG Admissions Tutor for American Studies, Film Studies, Media and Cultural Studies Institute for Cultural Research <> Faculty of Social Sciences <> Lancaster University <> Lancaster UK LA1 4YR (01524) 594186 <>