Accepted Paper:

"It's very simple, they … just get it done there" - reproductive technologies, gene editing, and moral geographies as sense making devices  


Sarah Rose Bieszczad (Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

Building on a series of discussion groups on genome editing (CRISPR) in Austria, this paper aims to show how people use "moral geographies" in making sense of these new technological promises. This practice (re)produces hierarchical differences of us/them, here/there and closeness/distance.

Paper long abstract:

"… but for people it's very simple, they just drive to Slovakia or one

of the neighboring foreign countries and get it done there". This is one

quote from discussion groups organised by the STS Department in Vienna

(Felt, Metzler & Bieszczad) in late 2017 addressing genome editing with


Due to the relative affordability and speed of gene editing with CRISPR,

promises arise to democratise genetic research whilst potentially

eliminating heritable diseases. While ethics boards, researchers in

different fields as well as leading journals have voiced concerns about

these promises, this project investigates both the attempts of

participants to make sense of this highly contested emerging technology

and the narratives (re)produced surrounding reproductive technologies in

the genetic age.

Feminist scholars of technoscience have long been pointing out

problematic entanglements of reproductive technologies, with questions

of local/global inequalities and the hierarchization of societies both

within and amongst each other. Although CRISPR does raise new questions

of regulation and governance, it reanimates a long-standing discourses

that moralizes reproduction and polices bodies.

By conducting a narrative analysis of discussions on reproductive

technologies using gene editing, this paper examines how participants

draw distinctions along axes of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and

ability, utilising "moral geographies" to make sense of the distributed

nature of gene editing technologies. Considering the uneven legislation

across national boundaries, participants are acutely aware that national

legal frameworks are often insufficient to encounter the complexity of

contemporary reproductive possibilities.

Panel F05
Promissory encounters? Exploring innovations at the intersection of reproduction and genetics from a feminist STS perspective