Panel at National Women’s Studies Association
November 10, 2016
Decolonizing Asian Reproduction in the Face of U.S. Sex Selective Abortion Bans
State University of New York,
University at Albany
This paper explores dislocation and recontextualization of the population control narrative and how it attaches to racialized bodies in the diaspora. In particular, sex selection narratives resurface with unexpected effects. U.S.-based reproductive justice campaigns, once concerned about the gender discriminatory impact of sex selection, are re-strategizing to combat anti-choice forces that rely on racialized rhetoric to promote bans on “sex selective” abortion. How can we undo the colonial imaginary of the savage (now sexist and racialized Asian) baby killer without thwarting feminist concerns about sex selection that are embedded in critiques of the abuses of population control?
Contraceptive Technologies as a Colonial Move: Pathologizing Reproduction in Senegal
Ellen E. Foley
This paper argues that new contraceptives—touted as promoting empowerment—operate as a (re)colonizing of women’s bodies and selves. These technologies attempt to “rationalize” procreation and subject female bodies to pharmacological control without challenging the gender/sex orders that limit women’s bodily autonomy (Rubin 1975). The promotion of contraceptive innovations is an attempt to engage women in new forms of self-governance: the auto-regulation of fertility as a technology of the self (Foucault 1983). These themes are explored vis-à-vis the Sayana Press. I suggest that the “challenges” to a successful roll-out of Sayana Press in Senegal might be understood as (decolonial) resistance.
Population Control is Not (just) History
The claim that top-down, target-driven population control is history is common in current scholarly and policy discourses about sexual and reproductive health and rights. I argue that this claim is problematic because it discourages critical inquiry into population control as a present phenomenon and stymies challenges to it. Elements of population control persist in the present alongside human rights and women’s empowerment approaches. I will discuss two such manifestations of population control: 1) neo-Malthusian narratives in family planning and 2) technocratic family planning approaches that promote targets to disseminate long-acting reversible contraceptives.