Our Research

Our agenda for research on reproduction has two main foci:

  1. The social study of reproductive technologies. Here we focus on attempts by people to shape their biology through vernacular and biomedical interventions. Developments in reproductive technologies – enabling both pregnancy prevention and conception – have changed the imaginaries and practices of making babies and kinning. Contraception (biomedical or other) allows women a measure of choice as to whether they want to conceive, when and with whom they want to conceive. For individuals and couples, who are not able to access biomedical contraceptives for various reasons, vernacular interventions exist. In the project we pay close attention to the vast regional and in-country differences and inequalities in access to relevant medical infrastructures. We acknowledge that the birth of some children is more valued than others, depending on the sex and race of the child, and the socio-economic class, age, sexual orientation, marital status and nationality of the mother and/or father. We attend to both the practices of trying to (or not) conceive and the moralising discourse that accompanies this will be explored. A concept we explore here is that of “longing”.
  2. The exploration of the socialization of children. Here we focus on care for newborns, their kinning and their preparation for becoming citizens. The starting questions are: What relationships of care are made after a baby is born to sustain its life? How do these relationships of care impact on their future health? We foreground the huge inequalities that underpin raising children in Africa. For example, socio-economic class is a factor in access to housing, healthy diets, and medical care, all of which shape the possibilities of both women’s and men’s reproductive bodies and the future health of their infants. Furthermore, the environment in which mothers/fathers/guardians care for children is critical as it can affect their mental health and their capacity to provide early infant care.