(P31)
Coming to life: sovereign births and other reproductive logics
Location The Cairns Institute, D3-144
Date and Start Time 07 Dec, 2018 at 13:45
Sessions 1

Convenor

  • Jenny Munro (University of Queensland) email

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Chair Jenny Munro (University of Queensland)

Short abstract

This panel explores reproductive logics in the context of arguments about the gradations and variegations of sovereignty ostensibly permitted to, sought after, and experienced by, different populations.

Long abstract

In The Economization of Life, Michelle Murphy argues that neoliberal population logics have differently valued reproduction according to future economic productivity and the enhancement of the national economy. This argument highlights the continued devaluation of some lives over others and expands on the notion of 'stratified reproduction', in which reproduction reflects and reinforces inequalities. This panel explores reproductive logics in the context of arguments about the gradations and variegations of sovereignty ostensibly permitted to, sought after, and experienced by, different populations. It seeks contributions that explore specific instances of the population logics described by Murphy or other population logics that differently value reproduction (including but not limited to desire, conception, pregnancy, birth, and care). For example, Indigenous continuity under settler colonialism, the global logic of saving maternal lives, or citizenship laws that punish reproduction may represent other population logics with implications for whether and how reproduction serves or threatens political ends, and how it reflects and creates inequalities. This panel seeks contributions that explore reproductive logics and/or ask how people address these logics in practice.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Unsovereign births: mobility and loss among professional Indonesian mothers in Singapore and Australia

Author: Leslie Butt (University of Victoria) email
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Short abstract

Mobile professional women from Indonesia who leave the country struggle to maintain control over their reproductive lives. They accept the loss of traditional belonging to a place in order to give birth and raise children themselves.

Long abstract

Stratified reproduction enables some women to reproduce and rear children at the expense of others --a child's life often occurs at the expense of the non-life of another child. Scholars have described a strong demarcation between affluent women who are putatively able to control childbirth and childrearing at the expense of less affluent women's reproductive choices. For globally mobile women, however, choices can be complex, and can force reckonings with other forms of loss, in particular around belonging, family continuities, and citizenship. Increasing mobility fragments place-based identities, and forces ruptures in allegiances to nations or regions. This paper describes the results of a study on reproduction and childrearing of professional, highly mobile mothers who have left Indonesia to work or study overseas. In-depth interviews and on-line observations reveal Indonesian women often travel to countries where they experience prohibitions on residency and on reproduction. Women's decisions around childbirth, childrearing and mobility are strongly shaped by these prohibitions, but also by concerns about the well-being of children, and their desire to be with their children. To maintain choice around childrearing women forego attachment to residency in a place, give little importance to nationality, and give up a long-term sense of "home." Belonging becomes a secondary concern, with mobility across locales and social loss viewed as necessary for the larger project of giving life to a child, and enabling parents and children to remain together.

Human reproduction: interrogating Australia's No Jab, No Pay and No Jab, No Play vaccination policies

Author: Julia LeMonde (University of Queensland) email
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Short abstract

This paper examines what it means to reproduce, raise and care for an Australian child in the context of current vaccination ideology. 'Anti-vaxer' perspectives reveal how marginalised voices and lives are devalued within population based logics positing vaccination as essential for human health.

Long abstract

In this paper I explore what it means to reproduce and raise a child in Australian society since the introduction of No Jab No Pay and No Jab No Play childhood vaccination legislation. Whilst many parents understand vaccination as a normative model of what it means to raise a child in today's society, current vaccination ideology elides a long history of contestation and controversy around this biomedical intervention. Many Australians argue that current vaccination legislation is coercive and restricts the rights of adults to make free choices about the bodies of children. Whilst more affluent adults still retain bodily sovereignty over their children, these rights are limited for others, and current legislation invites further economic hardship and isolation for these groups.

This paper examines how increasing state control over the reproductive lives of Australians and the removal of rights of health care and early childhood educators to question vaccination, has resulted in a proliferation of largely underground movements which have mobilised in response. Ethnographic exploration of marginalised vaccine questioning narratives reveals the effects of the current vaccination policy on individuals as they interact with and/or resist vaccination only to become devalued in the process.

I then describe the ways vaccine resisters claim and reclaim bodily sovereignty against governmentality tactics. This paper argues that vaccination population logics are not only a particular normative biopolitical model but also a counterproductive one that threatens to create deep societal fissures in as people continue to negotiate and resist state involvement in reproduction.

‘Reaping' the demographic dividend: examining reproduction and population logics in post-conflict Timor-Leste

Author: Laura Burke (University of Kent) email
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Short abstract

This paper examines reproduction and population in Timor-Leste in the context of the country’s rapid post-conflict population growth. It considers the different population logics at work in shaping ideas about producing the next generation and the value of reproduction.

Long abstract

Timor-Leste experienced a significant loss of life under a 24-year Indonesian occupation, however since independence the country has experienced rapid population growth, due to very high fertility rates. Over 70% of Timorese citizens are currently under 35 years old. National discourses around a capitalising on a 'demographic dividend' and investing in 'human capital' envision the transformation of a youthful post-conflict population into a valuable national resource. Based on ongoing ethnographic research which investigates the meaning and value reproduction in Timor-Leste, this paper explores how local perceptions about creating future generations are tied to both experiences of past conflict and hopes for a better economic future. It further considers how multiple population logics, embedded in national history and visions for the future, come to value reproduction and population growth, in divergent ways.

Reproduction and Colonialism among Kamoro in West Papua

Author: Els Tieneke Rieke Katmo (University of Papua) email
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Short abstract

Colonialist approaches identify the other, or colonised people, by evaluating them along standards of modern life based on Christianity and stigmatising Indigenous sexuality. Based on fieldwork conducted in Mimika district, West Papua, this paper focuses on the effects of colonialism on Kamoro people’s reproduction and sexuality.

Long abstract

Colonialist approaches identify the other, or colonised people, by evaluating them along standards of modern life based on Christianity. Dichotomous ways of thinking that old or traditional values and practices need to be changed is a colonial way of thinking. This paper focuses on the experiences of Kamoro people, specifically the impacts of colonialism on reproduction and sexuality, and draws on fieldwork conducted in 2015. The Dutch might not have brought all the diseases but they changed the values, practices, and norms that guided Indigenous Kamoro people regarding reproduction and sexuality. In the Indonesian era (1963-present), young people are affected by the values that Butt and Munro (2007) describe as a ‘shame culture’ that originated during Indonesian era. Indigenous sex and sexuality is stigmatised as primitive and dirty, something to be hidden and ashamed of. Sexual violence including coercive sex in courtship, rape and unprotected sex behaviour are connected to these ideas, which also drive the increasing number of STIs including HIV. Addressing the misconceptions, stigma and stereotypes of Indigenous people and the judgmental and racialised assumptions about their past cultural practices is necessary for a contemporary healing process. The impact of colonialism on people’s health, including its traumatising effects, must be acknowledged.

Reproductive sovereignty and caesarean avoidance in West Papua

Authors: Jenny Munro (University of Queensland) email
Meki Wetipo (Honai Center) email
Els Tieneke Rieke Katmo (University of Papua) email
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Short abstract

This paper explores competing reproductive logics in West Papua. It develops and interrogates the concept of "reproductive sovereignty" based on ongoing ethnographic research into Indigenous experiences of reproductive health services and childbirth, especially caesarean sections.

Long abstract

The concept of "reproductive governance" means that embodied moral regimes promote and make available different reproductive choices for different populations depending on national political strategies, local idioms, and global economic logics. In West Papua, there are competing reproductive logics that underpin different views on maternal and infant mortality. Practices surrounding pregnancy and childbirth encapsulate these tensions. Based on ongoing ethnographic research into Indigenous experiences of reproductive health services and childbirth in West Papua, especially caesarean delivery and refusal, this paper explores "reproductive sovereignty" as an embodied moral regime that shapes reproductive choices in relation to settler colonialism.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.