SYMPOSIUM – Testing Women, Testing the Fetus 20th Anniversary Symposium

07.11.2019 - 08.11.2019
University of Edinburgh, -, -, Scotland.


Keynote: Professor Rayna Rapp
Host: Dr Lucy Lowe (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Khiara M. Bridges (UC Berkeley)

7th – 8th November 2019
Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology
University of Edinburgh

This year marks twenty years since the publication of Professor Rayna Rapp’s seminal monograph Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America. This ethnography, an award-winning classic text of feminist and medical anthropology, has inspired a generation of scholars working on reproduction, disability, genetics, bioethics, and parenting. This monograph takes us to the complex intersection of intimate family relationships, cutting-edge medical technology, race, genetic counselling, and obstetric care, underscored by classic anthropological concerns with kinship and inheritance. Rapp’s question, ‘What does scientific literacy mean in a culture as deeply stratified as our own?’ is perhaps even more pertinent in 2019 than it was in 1999.

Reproductive technologies have developed apace in the two decades since this ground-breaking ethnography was published, as transnational scientific communities continually produce new frontiers in reproductive science and genetic technology. This period of medical advancement has been fostered in shifting spaces of reproductive politics. Laws on access to contraceptives, abortion, and assisted reproductive technologies have remained the most visible, but by no means the entirety of reproductive politics, where we continue to witness ‘the intersection of personal pain and national politics.’ The theoretical challenges in Testing Women continue to be relevant. Where can we locate ‘moral pioneers’ in contemporary medical settings? How can we make ethnographic research speak to both anthropological and medical communities?

This symposium will draw together scholars inspired by Testing Women, Testing the Fetus to explore its continued theoretical contribution in present and future research. We invite abstracts (250 words max) that speak to the themes, theories, and methodological challenges presented by Professor Rapp’s work. Please send them to<> and<> by 4th September 2019.

Dr Lucy Lowe
Director, Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology

University of Edinburgh
15a George Square