About this Research Topic
Birth, which so well demonstrates the tensions, as well as the interconnections, between the natural and the social, is a universal aspect of living organisms, but is nonetheless subject to widely differing understandings, practices and management. Birth is the subject of cultural representations, for example within popular culture, where meanings are made and every day assumptions generated and reinforced about human and non-human birth. Birth is also subject to dispute, disagreement and however natural and inevitable, can also be political.
We seek to interrogate a number of different aspects of birth, especially the role of expertise and whose knowledge counts as well as the invocation of the natural in scientific and scholarly debate. For example, in the case of human and non-human experience of birth a range of different discourses are implicated, such as ethical discussion about reproductive technologies, cloning, fertility treatment, multiple births, and births which involve the DNA of three parties. We welcome interdisciplinary discussion which explores the interrelationship between human and non human birth processes. Furthermore, we are looking for papers that investigate the liminal spaces between the human and non-human, such as that highlighted in some of Donna Haraway’s work on companion species and Sarah Franklin’s work on cloning and transformations of reproduction across species.
We suggest some particularly pertinent questions in order to progress this topic, but are open to submissions that offer different perspectives and pose different questions about the productive potential of a research topic on birth:
At an historical moment in the expansion of what Haraway has called technoscience, how do technological and scientific developments and interventions transform the experience as well as the management of birth-for human and non-human animals?
How far is it possible to extract what is natural from what is social in such a fast moving, interventionist field?
How do birth practices shape and influence sex, gender and gender relations?
What is the relationship between the different forces at play in the organization of birth across the world in the twenty first century? How political is birth and what are the moral issues to be addressed by those involved?
What ethical aspects are raised by reproductive technologies, ranging from IVF to cloning and including the facilitation, management or prevention of birth through contraception or termination of pregnancy?
What is the impact of dominant cultural representations of birth? For example, how far do humans understand birth through animal reproduction for example in films and television programmes as well as pedagogy in schools?
To what extent do humans understand maternity and maternal behaviour through exposure to non-human mothering and how do humans perceive non-human motherhood?
Keywords: birth, human, non-human, boundaries, relationality, reproduction, companion species
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