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Accepted Paper:

Reproduction as Regeneration. The Making of In Vitro Gametogenesis in Cambridge (UK)  
Noémie Merleau-Ponty (CNRS)

Paper short abstract:

In vitro gametogenesis is a technology in the making to produce eggs and sperm. Lab knowledge interprets reproduction as regeneration, the inner capacity of cells to reshape their fertility. Reproductive technologies change meaning, from technofix to nurturance.

Paper long abstract:

In vitro gametogenesis is a technology in the making to produce eggs and sperm. Lab knowledge interprets reproduction as regeneration, the inner capacity of cells to reshape their fertility. Reproductive technologies change meaning, from technofix to nurturance.

The anthropology of assisted reproductive technologies has primarily focused on infertility and family making practices. In that perspective, reproductive biotechnologies are understood as tools used to circumvent infertility by providing techno-fixes.

A small body of literature has focused on laboratory work, embryo culture and stem cell research, looking at the intertwining of science, biotechnologies and infertility. Along this line, I have done fieldwork in a basic research laboratory based in Cambridge (UK), where gamete differentiation from embryonic stem cells is the object of experimentation.

In vitro gametogenesis is a technology in the making which application is still to be invented using human cells. This said, laboratory knowledge production already gives critical interpretation of reproductive cells and their relationship to technology.

Observing the daily life of some biologists and running interviews, this paper describes the biological knowledge that is currently emerging from the research on in vitro gametogenesis. It argues that fertility is interpreted as a regenerative process. The concept of regeneration points at the inner capacity of cells to reshape their fertility. Doing so, it also opens up a different understanding of reproductive biotechnologies. Not so much understood as techno-fixes, they are built to nurture fertility.

Panel P141
Doing and undoing reproduction [Medical Anthropology Europe [MAE]
  Session 2