Pre-Natal Technologies, Redesigning the Social Genetics of European Families

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 134 (University of Glasgow)
Shelley Grant , School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London
The concept of ‘postmemory’, developed by Marianne Hirsch (1991) that describes the perceptions of ‘generation after’ survivors who ‘ “remember” only by means of the stories, images, and behaviours’ events that ‘preceded one’s birth or one’s consciousness’, is a promising tool for evaluating European family change. Inspired by the reproductive motives it suggests, this paper considers the social legacy created by widespread advanced reproductive technology use (ART) by select European populations. Based on a survey of ART activity, the research draws from disciplines of emotional geography, mobility studies and gender studies to evaluate the material and residual effects of regional reliance on ART as it concerns the fulfillment of citizen, personal and population replacement interests. Specifically, it assesses the capacity for pioneering processes of embryonic pre-implantation genetic disorder testing (PGD) and emerging treatments for mitochondrial disease using donated or non-donated, unfertilized sex cells (MRT) to literally redesign social constructs of gender and kinship while perpetuating social patterns on new, microscopic scales. Reflecting on these processes, it concludes with a theoretical review on shifts in the measures and meanings of pre-natal ‘health’ and parenthood itself that accompany pervasive forms of reproductive ‘counseling’ aimed a providing curative ‘genetic therapies’ (Claiborne et al. 2016).
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