Thursday, October 15, 2009

Course Project Proposal

In my course project, I plan to examine the relationship of reproductive technology and culture. My purpose is to interrogate two main ideas: how institutions prescribe technology to fit particular cultures as well as how individuals appropriate technologies and enculturate those technologies on their own behalf. This examination will involve questions of ethnicity, culture, rhetoric, technology, agency, and how these five categories interact. In the context of this proposal, I would like to follow the line of thinking leading me to this area, and I will conclude with an explanation of the more exact plan I am formulating to interrogate this intersection of technology and culture.

Because I am a product of Western culture, I believe it may be more informative for me to examine how such webs play out in an Eastern culture. The obvious choice of country for my subject, then,—because of the international spotlight on reproductive issues and the controversial “one-child” policy—is China. I will give an overview of this policy and discuss how reproductive technologies have driven cultural and social changes in relation to it, and I will make a case that understanding of this phenomenon in the Western world is limited.

I will also devote considerable space to looking at how Eastern uses of reproductive technologies have influenced the Western conventions that we often believe are ours alone. I will incorporate knowledge about the roots of medical technologies as they relate to reproductive medicine and I will discuss how such technologies are appropriated/reappropriated/poached. I plan to use Michel de Certeau’s theories about production as a framework over which to weave my examination of the everyday decisions and technologies made and used within the cultures I will examine. Because de Certeau argues for two productions—the first being equivalent to creation and the second being consumption, a sort of re-creation—I can situate American and Chinese consumption of reproductive technologies relative to each other.

I will also use de Certeau’s term “poaching” to promote understanding of how one culture’s use of a technology may differ from when another culture takes up the same technologies. By poaching a product and re-creating it in one's own context, othered communities find a tactic to gain power. This is what has happened in China as women abort female fetuses in an attempt to heed the cultural desire for sons. While this tactic reinforces the power of the culture, it also undermines other social desires (such as the opportunity for a Chinese son to find a Chinese wife, to say nothing of the ethical issues at stake).

My working question, then, in order to examine the relationship between how institutions prescribe technologies and how individuals appropriate technologies depending on cultural influences, will be: In what ways and for what reasons do Chinese women poach reproductive technologies? This question, though a workable starting point, presents problematic avenues for inquiry from the very beginning. I will address such complications early in my paper, including: how one might define “Chinese women,” since the term does not represent a homogenous culture; what poaching means in regard to where a technology came from; why women are placed in a position to do this poaching; and how my own situatedness influences this investigation.

Potential Works Cited

Blair, Kristine, and Pamela Takayoshi, eds. Feminist Cyberscapes: Mapping Gendered Academic Spaces. Stamford, Connecticut: Ablex Corporation, 1999. Print. New Dimensions in Computers & Composition Studies.

Blair, Kristine, Radhika Gajjala, and Christine Tulley, eds. Webbing Cyberfeminist Practice: Communities, Pedagogies and Social Action. Cresskill, N.J.: Hampton Press Inc., 2009. New Dimensions in Computers & Composition Studies.

Bordo, Susan. Twilight Zones: The Hidden Life of Cultural Images from Plato to O.J. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1997. Print.

Bray, Francesca. Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China. London: University of California Press, 1997. Print.

de Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984. Print.

Domar, Alice, Irene Meshay, Joseph Kelliher, Michael Alper, and Douglas R. Powers. “The Impact of Acupuncture on In Vitro Fertilization Outcome.” Fertility & Sterility 91.3 (2009): 723-26. Elsevier. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.

Domar, Alice D. “Acupuncture and Infertility: We Need to Stick to Good Science.” Fertility & Sterility 85.5 (2006): 1359-1361. Elsevier. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.

Eckholm, Erik. "Desire for Sons Drives Use of Prenatal Scans in China." The New York Times on the Web. The New York Times, 21 June 2002. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.

Evans, Karin. The Lost Daughters of China: Abandoned Girls, Their Journey to America, and the Search for a Missing Past. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 2000. Print.

Ikemoto, Lisa C. "Eggs as Capital: Human Egg Procurement in the Fertility Industry and the Stem Cell Research Enterprise." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 34.4 (2009): 763-81. The University of Chicago. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.

Junhong, Chu. “Prenatal Sex Determination and Sex-Selective Abortion in Rural Central China.” Population and Development Review 27.2 (2001): 259-281. Population Council. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.

LaDuke, Winona. All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life. Cambridge: South End Press, 1999. Print.

Lay, Mary M., Laura J. Gurak, Clare Gravon, and Cynthia Myntti. Body Talk: Rhetoric, Technology, Reproduction. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2000. Print.

Loo, Kek K., Xiling Luo, Hong Su, Angela Presson, and Yan Li. "Dreams of Tigers and Flowers: Child Gender Predictions and Preference in an Urban Mainland Chinese Sample During Pregnancy." Women & Health 49.1 (2009): 50-65. Taylor & Francis Group, LLC, 01 Jan. 2009. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.

Mamo, Laura, and Jennifer R. Fosket. " Scripting the Body: Pharmaceuticals and the (Re)Making of Menstruation." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 34.4 (2009): 925-49. The University of Chicago. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.

Miller, Barbara D. “Female-Selective Abortion in Asia: Patterns, Policies, and Debates.” American Anthropologist 103.4 (2001): 1083-1095. Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.

Mitchell, Lisa M. Baby’s First Picture: Ultrasound and the Politics of Fetal Subjects. Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 2001. Print.

Roberts, Dorothy E. "Race, Gender, and Genetic Technologies: A New Reproductive Dystopia?." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 34.4 (2009): 783-804. The University of Chicago. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.

Ryan, Maura A. " The Introduction of Assisted Reproductive Technologies in the “Developing World”: A Test Case for Evolving Methodologies in Feminist Bioethics." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 34.4 (2009): 805-25. The University of Chicago. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.

Samerski, Silja. "Genetic Counseling and the Fiction of Choice: Taught Self-Determination as a New Technique of Social Engineering." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 34.4 (2009): 735-61. The University of Chicago. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.

Shanley, Mary L., and Adrienne Asch. "Involuntary Childlessness, Reproductive Technology, and Social Justice: The Medical Mask on Social Illness." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 34.4 (2009): 851-74. The University of Chicago. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.

Short, Susan E. and Fengyu Zhang. “Use of Maternal Health Services in Rural China.” Population Studies 58.1 (2004): 3-19. Population Investigation Committee. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.

Solinger, Rickie. Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America. New York, New York University Press, 2005. Print.

Taylor, Janelle S. The Public Life of the Fetal Sonogram: Technology, Consumption, and the Politics of Reproduction. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2008. Print.

Wyer, Mary, Mary Barbercheck, Donna Giesman, Hatice Örün Öztürk, and Marta Wayne, eds. A Reader in Feminist Science Studies: Women, Science, and Technology. New York: Routledge, 2001. Print.

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