Fighting with the Sky

Conceiving the New World Order [Women's Studies Wednesday]

Posted on: September 23, 2009

0520089146.01.LZZZZZZZConceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction (edited by Faye D. Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp) is an anthology that I read from for my Anthropology of Reproduction class my sophomore year of college.  My copy still has sticky notes and pen markings all over it from the great time that I had in that class.  The essays that are compiled in this anthology are broad-ranging, which is why I think I liked it so much — it covered a lot of ground in the world of sexual politics and reproduction.

From the back cover:

This groundbreaking volume provides a dramatic investigation of the dynamics of reproduction.  In an unusually broad spectrum of essays, a distinguished group of international feminist scholars and activists explores the complexity of contemporary sexual politics around the globe.  Using reproduction as an entry point in the study of social life and placing it at the center of social theory, the authors examine how cultures are produced, contested, and transformed as people imagine their collective future in the creation of the next generation.  The studies encompass a wide variety of subjects, from the impact of AIDS on reproduction in the United States to the after-effects of Chernobyl on the Sami people in Scandinavia and the impact of totalitarian abortion and birth control policies in Romania and China.

Conceiving the New World Order is a must read for all anthropologists and gender studies scholars as well as anyone interested in the dynamics of women’s experiences around the world.

Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?  In the sense that all of the essays are pretty scholarly, it can be.  Especially for a sophomore who isn’t too familiar with anthropological theory.  But I made it through and loved it.

The essays in this anthology are divided into six sections: The Politics of Birth/Control; Stratified Reproduction; Rethinking Demography, Biology, and Social Policy; Disastrous Circumstances and Reproductive Consequences; What’s So New About the New Reproductive Technologies; and What’s Political About Reproduction.  I think my favorite sections would probably be The Politics of Birth/Control and What’s Political About Reproduction.  I love anything that talks about the intersection between politics and women’s body.  This whole anthology is pretty much about that, but especially these two sections.  Some of the essays that I still have bookmarked range include: “Deadly Reproduction among Egyptian Women: Maternal Mortality and the Medicalization of Population Control” by Soheir A. Morsy; “Political Demography: The Banning of Abortion in Ceausescu’s Romania” by Gail Kligman (which I have a whole book on and could talk about for a while); “Displacing Knowledge: Technology and the Consequences for Kinship” by Marilyn Strathern; “Interrogating the Concept of Reproduction in the Eighteenth Century” by Ludmilla Jordanova; and “Misreading Darwin on Reproduction: Reductionism in Evolutionary Theory” by Adrienne L. Zihlman.

This is definitely a loft anthology, but I think it’s worth at least taking a look at some of the essays it contains.  Especially for anyone interested in reproduction, the intersection between politics and women’s bodies on a global level, and women’s studies in general.

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