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Call for Papers: The Reproductive Horizons of Abolition – Contesting the Coloniality of Power in Older and Newer Practices of Family Formation | University of Amsterdam

For an international workshop to take place on the 27th & 28th March 2025, organised by The Reproductive Horizons of Abolition seed funding project.

In contemporary societies, children have become important “nodes » of desire. Practices like adoption and foster care, supposedly designed to serve the ‘best interests of children’, have already for decades been used to fulfill the reproductive wishes of infertile heterosexual couples. In more recent times, an increasingly diverse group of prospective parents – now also composed of singles and LGBTQI+ couples – are additionally relying on assisted reproductive technologies (ART) – such as in vitro fertilisation, (trans)national gamete donation and surrogacy – which are complementing and even replacing those already existing practices of family formation.

However, both these older and newer practices of (assisted) family formation are increasingly contested by different scholars, policy makers, practitioners, and activists across the political and analytical spectrum. Such criticisms involve the global (neo)colonial inequalities of power in which reproductive tissues (oocytes, sperm), labours (gestation, ovulation, mothering) and children “flow” from the Global South and East to mostly White middle-class families in the Global North (Inhorn, 2015; Twine, 2015). Feminists are particularly concerned with the potential exploitation and commodification of the bodies, labours and biologies of the women involved, including surrogates, egg cell providers and first mothers. From the perspective of children’s rights, their objectification and the upholding of secrecy and anonymity in adoption and ART policies and practices is increasingly viewed as a violation of their right to identity and information about their biogenetic origins. These discussions play out in a context where conservative and/or far right pro-family groups present newer reproductive technologies and non-traditional family formations as an existential threat to the so-called ‘natural’ heteronormative family order.

See more information on the Decolonial Futures website

Send in an abstract of max. 250 words to reproductiveabolitions@gmail.com by 31 August 2024 at latest. Selected participants will be asked to prepare a short paper (2500-3000) to be circulated ahead of the workshop. This event is organized by Siggie Vertommen (Universiteit van Amsterdam and Universiteit Gent), Sophie Withaeckx (Universiteit Maastricht) and Atamhi Cawayu (Universidad Católica Boliviana).