Dispositifs, knowledges, experiences.
Call for Papers
Thursday, December 12, 2013 - Friday, December 13, 2013
Université Paris Descartes
12 rue de l’Ecole de Médecine – 75006 – Paris – France
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a biomedical procedure which requires a social, cultural and technical background to function, while also being a source of knowledge, technical know-how and specific organisational patterns. The development of ART in sub-Saharan Africa since the 1980s has not been much the subject of attention from scientific circles and media. It is beneficial to consider its history to better weigh the conditions involved in the dissemination and appropriation of this technological and social innovation by those involved at social level (fertility physicians, biologists, patients, religious stakeholders). Using biotechnologies in fertility is also indicative of a reproduction model relying on the notion of wanting a child, a model supported by the middle class in contemporary Africa in a wider picture of reproductive health and women’s rights (empowerment of women in controlling their body, access to contraceptives, non-clandestine abortion and to health facilities caring for infertile couples). However, ART also brings to light inequalities of class, gender and race (as in South Africa), and in accessing information. To date, reproductive healthcare services are available in private clinics only, even if hospital physicians try to create low cost care facilities. Patients of these institutions represent the emerging middle class seeking health care of a quality that requires becoming part of international networks where new health care facilities are being set up. Hence, in seeking ART treatment, their overall relationship to health and medical information has changed. In this context, some of them are willing to travel across Africa or even to Europe, turning to reproductive health departments in the Paris area, while the French medico-legal prerequisites for migrant women born in sub-Saharan Africa and living in Europe are felt to be far too stringent (age limit, anonymous oocyte donation). In this case, the notion of biosociality is relevant, not so much to refer to mobilisation fields based on the common experience of a disease (as in the case of patients’ associations) but rather to capture the individual experiences of people who share a common experience of childbearing, mediated by science and dependent on political power.
The contributions to this conference also aim to reporting on “folk representations” of procreation. Does ART change the symbolic dimension of procreation and birth (role of ancestors and bush-spirits)? Are we confronted with a break from tradition, or is there a linking up at play to local traditional knowledge, especially that of witchcraft which has a unique part in the interpretation of infertility within family relationships? In these kinds of social and cultural backgrounds, women are always blamed whereas their husbands, if infertile, are protected by all social stakeholders, if not by their wives themselves in some cases. When resorting to ART, do men overcome their reluctance to admit their infertility, especially once it has been diagnosed? Are they willing to liberate themselves from a linage representation of fertility (and hence, of procreation) and to accept a rearrangement of transmission patterns in society and in men-women relationships?
We welcome proposals about infertility care in sub-Saharan Africa in the context of ART from diverse disciplines (anthropology, sociology, history, law,…). The subjects we are interested in are (non exhaustive):
· History and logics of ART Development on the continent.
· Experience of ART and infertility
· Technologies and Personhood: negotiation and articulation of knowledge and practices around ART
· ART, a biosocial experiment?
· Recognition of infertility and legitimacy of Women infertility in Africa
Please send a ten lines abstract (in English or in French) before the 10th of September 2013 to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Acceptance will be notified from the 10th of October.
The conference will be held in University Paris-Descartes (Paris 5) in French and English on the 12th and 13th of December 2013. No funds are available for travelling expenses.
The scientific committee:
Michel Cot, Médecin épidémiologiste à l'IRD.
Viola Hörbst, Anthropologue, Lecturer at the Institute for Social Anthropology and African Studies at University of Munich (Germany).
Odile Journet, Directrice de Recherches en anthropologie, CNRS.
Madjid Ihadjadene, Professeur en Sciences de l'information et de la communication, U. Paris 8,
Enric Porqueres, Directeur d’études en anthropologie de la parenté, EHESS.
Irène Théry, Directrice de Recherches en sociologie du droit et de la famille, EHESS.