In the mid-1990s, the international community pronounced prenatal sex selection via abortion an “act of violence against women” and “unethical.” At the same time, new developments in reproductive technology in the United States led to a method of sex selection before conception; its US inventor marketed the practice as “family balancing” and defended it with the rhetoric of freedom of choice. In Gender before Birth, Rajani Bhatia takes on the double standard of how similar practices in the West and non-West are divergently named and framed.
Bhatia’s extensive fieldwork includes interviews with clinicians, scientists, biomedical service providers, and feminist activists, and her resulting analysis extends both feminist theory on reproduction and feminist science and technology studies. She argues that we are at the beginning of a changing transnational terrain that presents new challenges to theorized inequality in reproduction, demonstrating how the technosciences often get embroiled in colonial gender and racial politics.
An ambitious book that breaks new ground on the evolution and present technologies and practices of lifestyle sex selection, builds on and critiques feminist and STS theories of reproduction to develop the new concept of biopopulationism, and engages with the messy politics of sex selection in the United States.
Betsy Hartmann, author of Reproductive Rights and Wrongs and The America Syndrome: Apocalypse, War, and Our Call to Greatness
A fascinating book that combines transnational feminist theory with empirical evidence collected through anthropological methods to present an analysis of the development, expansion, and normalization of sex selection technology as it occurs in ‘the West and the rest.’
Rayna Rapp, author of Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America and coeditor of Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction
A fantastic contribution to feminist technoscience, the transnational travels of biomedicalization, and reproductive politics. Bhatia examines sex selective ART as a global form and traveling assemblage that reveals the complex entanglements of gender, race/ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, ability, and other axes of difference. A book that will be a must-read for anyone interested in stratified reproduction and the biopolitics of science, technology, and medicine.
Laura Mamo, author of Queering Reproduction