Sovereignty over the cell? Cross-border reproductive care and the anthropology of the state
Madeleine Reeves (University of Manchester)
Paper short abstract:
This paper asks how attentiveness to the cross-border movement of gametes, embryos, and reproductive technologies can expand the anthropology of the state through an attentiveness to the cellular as a locus of sovereignty-claims and biopolitical regulation.
Paper long abstract:
Recent work in economic and political geography has drawn attention to the commodification of reproductive possibilities, and the unequal movement of people, technologies and gametes engendered by the transnational spread of assisted reproductive technologies (Schurr 2018). Anthropologists, meanwhile, have illuminated the ways that new reproductive technologies have been taken up in diverse ways in different global settings; the 'reproductive aspirations' (Inhorn 2015) that motivate transnational journeys, and the forms of ethical and legal reasoning that accompany cross-border reproductive trajectories. These vibrant conversations have, as yet, however, have engaged relatively little with discussions within political anthropology and allied fields concerning the ways in which the regulation of enclosure, the bestowing or withdrawal of citizenship, or the promotion or proscription of particular forms of human and non-human movement foster new regimes of value accumulation. Drawing on exploratory research on cross-border reproductive care and emergent reproductive markets in Central Asia, this paper considers how the legal and administrative regulation of bodies, reproductive technologies and gametes across borders are constitutive of new forms of domopolitics and implicated in state demographic projects to 'grow' the (ethno-)nation. It considers how and why certain states have positioned themselves as legally-permissive and/or technologically sophisticated 'reprohubs'. In so doing, it seeks to ask how attentiveness to the cross-border movement of gametes, embryos, and reproductive technologies can expand the anthropology of the state through an attentiveness to the cellular as a locus of sovereignty-claims and biopolitical regulation.
Geographies and anthropologies of the state: places, persons and nonhumans