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Michaelmas Term Newsletter '17
Director's Welcome
We began this term with an inspiring workshop with Laura Briggs about her widely celebrated new book How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics, and we went on to host Rosalind Petchesky as our annual public lecturer in November, which together ensured that this academic year could not have had a more memorable and energizing start. Since we are at the same time planning our first major international conference for next June on 'the global reproductive politics of reproductive technologies' there has been a powerful consistency to our collective projects this term -- which continue to be many and thriving. Our outreach events at My Future Family and the Fertility Show in London have brought our work to an ever greater range of audiences and we have gained valuable new research partners along the way. Our 'Life in Translation' project led by Dr Noemie Merleau-Ponty has been shortlisted for future funding, as has our 'Changing In/Fertilities' application to Wellcome with Dr Marcia Inhorn. We welcomed the second cohort of Sociology of Reproduction MPhil students and as ever we hosted many distinguished visitors to ReproSoc. Karen Jent passed her viva with flying colours and saw her film 'Dish Life' premiere in New York, while Tian Tian Chen helped produce a BBC film on egg freezing by Chinese women in California. Thank you to everyone who made this term very special and very best wishes for the holidays! 2018 is looking like a watershed for our group so ReproSoc so charge your batteries now!
Sarah Franklin
Remaking Reproduction
Next year, we will hold our first major international conference, ‘Remaking Reproduction: The Global Politics of Reproductive Technologies'. If you’ve seen any of the publicity, you’ll know we’re very excited to be hosting scholars of reproduction from around the world to share their research and ideas. The only difficulty for now is trying to select which papers to accept from the nearly 200 abstracts we’ve received! Keep your eyes peeled for further updates and don’t forget the hashtag, #reprocnf.
Katie Dow
Annual Lecture
Rosalind Petchesky has for many years been our 'dream choice' of speaker, and it was therefore with great enthusiasm and excitement that we welcomed Ros to Cambridge this autumn to deliver a lecture on a new definition of reproductive politics as securitization. Addressing issues of walls, people, movements and containment as 'reproductive politics' in the broadest sense, Ros characteristically mapped out an ambitious new model of how we might theorise containment as reproductive control, and resistance as a reproductive insurrection. Her lecture was followed by a moving half day workkshop with close colleagues Sonia Correa and Marge Berer that re-examined the long histories of reproductive rights activism and writing.
Feminist Classics Revisited
This term we hosted the fifth event in the Feminist Classics Revisited series which focused on Black British Feminism (1997) edited by Heidi Safia Mirza. The symposium brought together many of the book's contributors who reflected on their chapters and the impact the book has had, both on their lives and the lives of others. With contributions from Sara Ahmed, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, Avtar Brah, Stella Dadzie, Gail Lewis, Lola Okolosie, Lola Olufemi, Tracey Reynolds and Amrit Wilson, among others, this celebratory event also served as a 20th birthday party for this much read and cited work.
Anne McLaren Events
On the 20th of July the British Library held an event to celebrate the life and work of the scientist Anne McLaren. The keynote address delivered by Mary Warnock  with contributions from Elizabeth Robertson (Professor of Developmental Biology, Oxford) and Chris Hassan (Wellcome Trust) as well as a panel discussion and audience Q&A chaired by Sarah Franklin. They discussed Anne McLaren’s work as a scientist, her role in the development of IVF, and her contribution to public life including her work on the Warnock committee and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. You can read more about the event in a blog post by ReproSoc PhD student Marieke Bigg.
In view of McLaren’s career on the borders between science and policy the Wellcome Collection held the conference “Anne McLaren and Translation” on the 12th December as a chance to take a timely look at what is meant by ‘translational science’. 
The goal of theconference wass to explore the convergence of the new emphasis in science policy on dialogue and interdisciplinarity with translation, with a view to proposing new models of the translational process.
Dish Life goes to NYC
In October, our documentary short film Dish Life travelled to New York City. The film team – ReproSoc’s Karen Jent, stem cell scientist Loriana Vitillo and director Chloe Thomas – were delighted to present at New York University’s Science Ethnographies workshop organised by Professor Rayna Rapp. The team also attended the film’s New York premiere at Imagine Science Festival, an event that was featured among the “10 Things to do in NYC now” in the New York Times. During these events, we had the fantastic opportunity to discuss our film with anthropologists of science, filmmakers, bioartists and biologists, and indeed, our tiny cells had a marvellous time visiting the Big Apple!
Karen Jent
Visiting Scholars
Natalia Fernández Jimeno is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at University of Oviedo (Spain) and joined ReproSoc during last summer. Natalia’s research is about the concept of motherhood in the context of assisted reproductive technologies. Following Feminist STS studies and the idea of the coproduction of gender and technology, she analyses how these technologies could reinforce or subvert the institution of motherhood and the active role of the users in it. During her stay at ReproSoc, Natalia intrigued everyone at a summer brown bag lunch by asking about the differences between subjectivity and identity. During her stay, as she says, she developed her work and learned about important research related to her study. She also wrote a review of Inmaculada de Melo Martín’s (2017) recent book, Rethinking Reprogenetics, with the feedback and help from Professor Sarah Franklin and Dr. Marcin Smietana. Hope to welcome Natalia back to Cambridge soon, and thanks for your lovely presence!
Hyaesin Yoon is an assistant professor in Gender Studies at Central European University. Her fascinating research concerns the variety of ways in which technological assemblages of humans, other animals, and machines mediate the power relations. During her visit to Cambridge for the Michaelmas term, Hyaesin worked on her book manuscript, Prosthetic Memories, which examines the ethics of memory in an age of virtual reality and biotechnology under conditions of neoliberal globalization. She presented a draft chapter on the transspecies intimacies in the pet-cloning practice, and, as she says, received ‘insightful and supportive comments’ in a ReproSess session - she made us think a lot! She says she fully enjoyed being part of the research group – participating in ReproSess sessions, lunch meetings, and informal conversations with other researchers in the group. She is looking forward – as we are! – to visiting Cambridge again at Remaking Reproduction conference in June!
Hannah Gibson is a PhD Candidate from the University of Victoria, Wellington (NZ), and she joined Reprosoc for the Michaelmas Term. Her research is an ethnographic exploration of surrogacy in the New Zealand context, particularly the ways that traditional (or genetic) surrogates resist assisted reproductive technologies and the medicalisation of birth. During her time at Reprosoc, Hannah wrote a preliminary chapter and presented it at a ReproSess – her depiction of an activist traditional surrogate remains in every ReproSoc’s memory now: it raised plenty of comments, input and debate! Hannah also wrote a widely commented, important blog post for ReproSoc website about the lack of access for disabled people at Cambridge University, and will publish another blog post in 2018 from New Zealand. Welcome to our ReproSoc family!
New MPhil Students
Sera Baker is looking forward to continuing to explore how young people navigate their sexual relationships, experiences and identities, under the supervision of Dr Robbie Duschinsky.
Tianqi Huang wants to explore the mechanism of family communication, negotiation, and decision making when involved with reproductive technologies, from the perspective of female status in their family.
Jarrah O'Neill - As an MPhil in the Sociology of Reproduction, my dissertation research will focus on the transnational dissemination of authoritative medical knowledge in a midwife training program. 
Elisabeth Sandler - Based on my last year’s research on parenting gender roles among lesbian parents, I am exploring how parental leave affects LGBTQ+ parents’ ability to experience their parental identity. This qualitative research will include semi-structured interviews and qualitative diaries.
Laura Briggs Workshop and Book Launch
Laura Briggs' compelling new monograph argues that the politics of care -- and reproduction -- are at the heart of late-twentieth century US politics -- and indeed of global geopolitics. This is a book about the origins of neoliberalism in a rewriting of the moral codes of kinship, gender, sexuality and reproduction that began in the 1980s -- and it is written in a uniquely accessible style. Just on the eve of this book's publication, we had the unique and memorable opportunity to hold a workshop with Laura in Cambridge, followed by a launch of her new book. If you have not read it already, order a copy now!
The 'Reproductive Politics in the Age of Trump and Brexit' panel I co-organised with Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp for the Annual American Anthropological Association meetings in Washington Dc took its cue direct from Ros Petchesky and Laura Briggs. We will be co-editing a special issue soon so watch this space!
Cambridge Festival of Ideas Event
Egg-Freezing: The New Way to the Top?

Saturday 21st October 2017
In light of egg freezing increasingly being reported to be of interest to women for reasons beyond preserving fertility, we felt that egg-freezing would be an aptly thought-provoking topic for discussion as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas. Following three insightful presentations by Dr Lucy van de Wiel, Dr Jude Browne, and Prof. Wendy Sigle, each of which were positioned to build on one another, a vibrant discussion chaired by Prof. Sarah Franklin ensued. The event was aimed at exploring if egg-freezing is the new way to the top in relation to career progression. Prof. Sigle boldly concluded that egg-freezing seemingly is indeed the long-awaited answer to the career progression of females, although not without several resulting dilemmas, before the floor opened to a stream of questions. We were fortunate to be joined by Poppy, as well as many attendees from the general public and interested academics.

Amarpreet Kaur
My Future Babies - A Chinese woman's 6,000-mile egg freezing journey
Grace, a BBC journalist, interviewed our PhD student Tiantian Chen who studies Chinese egg freezing policies at ReproSoc, as Grace planned to shoot a documentary about Chinese women’s egg freezing experience in the US. They knew each other from a Chinese WeChat group called Single Women’s Reproduction Rights. The BBC report discussed the social background behind the popularity of egg freezing among middle-class Chinese women who opt for a single life. The four-minute documentary trailer which narrated the repro-journey of a 31-year old Chinese girl Manman who banked more than 30 eggs in Los Angeles is now available online. Tiantian will continue working with Grace, as the debate about single women’s access to egg freezing in China is on-going. She has written a blog post for the ReproSoc blog sharing her reflection on her work for the documentary.
My Future Family Show
This Autumn we brought the Timeless installation to The Future Family Show at the beautiful De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London. Formerly called the Alternative Parenting Show, this event was particularly aimed at LGBT couples and single intended parents. It was great to speak about fertility in a less heteronormative environment and hear stories about many alternative pathways to parenthood. Marcin Smietana wrote a wonderful blog about this event, which you can read here
The Fertility Show
In November we also popped up again at the Fertility Show, the world’s largest fertility trade show at Olympia, London. The Timeless installation was popular as ever and we have expanded our collection of reflections from the message pod. In the pod, visitors could take some time out for a massage and a meditation. Afterwards, they could leave a message about their experiences with (in)fertility and their time at the Fertility Show. After three shows, we have gathered a fascinating audio archive of women’s and men’s intimate reflections on contemporary assisted reproduction. 
New Articles
This term, two open access articles were published!
Dr Mwenza Blell has written about ‘British Pakistani Muslim Masculinity, (In)fertility, and the Clinical Encounter’ in Medical Anthropology.
Dr Katie Dow published in Reproductive Medicine & Society online on ‘The Men who Made the Breakthrough’, by looking at ‘how the British press represented Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards in 1978.’
New PhD Students
This year we welcomed back two of our MPhil students from last year as PhD students. We're delighted that Amarpreet Kaur and Marieke Bigg will be with us for the next few years whilst they complete their research.
Amarpreet Kaur
Marieke Bigg
Conference Organiser
Julie Hogg
This term we welcomed Julie Hogg to the ReproSoc team as our conference organiser for our international conference Remaking Reproduction which we are holding in June. Julie’s academic background is in education and in particular the history of girls’ education in Cambridgeshire in the 1920s and 30s, which she researched for her M.Phil Thesis at King’s College, Cambridge. She also holds a B.Ed (Hons) from Homerton College, where she read History and Education.
Congratulaitons to Karen Jent on her fab PhD viva!
This term’s session of ReproDoc was a screening of the Channel 4 documentary, The Baby Makers: The Test Tube Baby. 2018 marks the first IVF baby Louise Brown’s 40th birthday, and it was very interesting to see a documentary looking back on the history of IVF from the late 1990s, about halfway between then and now. We have recently been working with the Science Museum on planning an exhibition on the history of IVF and hopefully clips from this documentary will be featured in that show. 
Katie Dow
Birthdays and Pot Luck Lunches
Every term we schedule several casual 'brown bag lunches' as an opportunity for everyone in ReproSoc to get together. This term we tried a new format - a vegetarian 'pot luck' style lunch where everyone brings something to share. It worked wonderfully, especially for birthday celebrations such as Sarah's in November. It's so important to make time to have fun!
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ReproSoc · Mond Building · New Museums Site · Cambridge, UK CB2 3RQ · United Kingdom

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