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Reproductive technologies and the Remaking of Life and Death

24. August – 25. August 2023 

Inter­na­tion­al con­fer­ence by Techn­oDeath at Aal­borg Uni­ver­si­ty in Copenhagen

The increas­ing glob­al devel­op­ment and use of repro­duc­tive tech­nolo­gies have prompt­ed repro­duc­tive schol­ars with­in the social sci­ences and human­i­ties to raise ques­tions regard­ing how fam­i­ly, kin­ship, race, gen­der, sex­u­al­i­ty, and dis­abil­i­ties inter­sect. Such stud­ies have focused not least on how the selec­tion of gametes, chil­dren, and par­ents takes place dur­ing med­ical treat­ment. Over­all, these stud­ies have illus­trat­ed how repro­duc­tive tech­nolo­gies are always tech­nolo­gies of biopol­i­tics, as they poten­tial­ly reflect on the gov­ern­ing of both life and death. Mean­while, com­pared to how repro­duc­tive tech­nolo­gies are seen to remake life, the tech­no­log­i­cal remak­ing of death has yet to be grant­ed the same amount of schol­ar­ly attention.

At this inter­na­tion­al con­fer­ence, we want to recen­ter the focus of repro­duc­tive stud­ies to explore how tech­nolo­gies remake death as it inter­sects with life. We hope to engage in a range of dif­fer­ent cas­es regard­ing how life and death emerge and are under­stood, such as dur­ing the cry­op­reser­va­tion and stor­age of gametes, in stud­ies of fam­i­ly plan­ning, in the use of pre­na­tal screen­ing, and in tech­nolo­gies involved in mis­car­riages, fetal reduc­tion, abor­tions, still births, births, neona­tal care, and infant death. We there­by hope to unpack how death emerges in rela­tion to tech­nolo­gies involved, how cells, fetal tis­sue, and bod­ies that are dead become man­aged, and how peo­ple live with deaths after they have ter­mi­nat­ed a preg­nan­cy or expe­ri­enced infant death. We hope to bring for­ward embod­ied sto­ries of how tech­no­log­i­cal remaking’s of life and death are expe­ri­enced, unpack­ing these sto­ries in rela­tion to how repro­duc­tive inequal­i­ties and cur­rent local and glob­al forms of repro­duc­tive and pop­u­la­tion pol­i­tics unfold.

We invite con­tri­bu­tions to think about and relate to ques­tions such as the following:

How does tech­nol­o­gy remake death and dying at the begin­ning of life?
How are colo­nial pasts, as well as racial­ized and gen­dered per­cep­tions of bod­ies, entan­gled in the use of tech­nolo­gies of life and death at the begin­ning of life?
What bio- and necrop­o­lit­i­cal prac­tices are involved in the pop­u­la­tion pol­i­tics at stake glob­al­ly regard­ing bod­ies that are enabled to either live or die?
How does the cry­op­reser­va­tion of gametes relate to life and death, giv­en that the sus­pen­sion of life is enabled?
How does tech­nol­o­gy shape expe­ri­ences and pol­i­tics regard­ing abor­tion globally?
As med­ical staff, what is it like to work with tech­nolo­gies enabling life and death?
How are abor­tion and fetal reduc­tion expe­ri­enced by preg­nant persons?
How are tech­nolo­gies entan­gled with affect or emo­tions dur­ing the process of mak­ing life and death?
How do legal and med­ical tech­nolo­gies inter­sect as per­cep­tions of qual­i­ty of life are assessed in deci­sions on whether to allow some­one to live or die?
How are tech­nolo­gies used to man­age the deaths of fetus­es and infants in mater­ni­ty wards and neona­tal inten­sive care units until the bur­ial or dis­pos­al of the body, and what norms of affect and griev­ing are implied?
How do par­ents who have lost a child or ter­mi­nat­ed a preg­nan­cy live with the remak­ing of death and dying through technologies?
How can tech­nolo­gies of life and death at the begin­ning of life be the­o­ret­i­cal­ly conceptualized?
What are the method­olog­i­cal chal­lenges of study­ing tech­nolo­gies of life and death at the begin­ning of life?

Kind regards,
Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor Stine Willum Adri­an and PhD fel­low Lau­ra Louise Heinsen