Season 3 (ONLINE): “(Counter)Narratives of Reproduction” (Spring Semester 2022)

25 January, 16–17 EET

Camilla Mørk Røstvik (Lecturer in Modern & Contemporary Art History, University of Aberdeen) & Saniya Lee Ghanoui (Program Director of Our Bodies Ourselves Today, Suffolk University, Boston): “Arctic Periods: Transnational Knowledge about Menstrual History and Wellbeing (preliminary findings)”

22 February, 16–17 EET

Charlotte Kroløkke (Professor & Head of Cultural Studies, Department for the Study of Culture, University of Southern Denmark): “Fertile Forever? Reproduction in the Age of Egg and Sperm Freezing”

29 March, 16–17 EEST

Rene Almeling (Associate Professor of Sociology, Yale University): ““GUYnecology: The Missing Science of Men’s Reproductive Health””

26 April, 16–17.30 EEST

Zaina Mahmoud (PhD Candidate, Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, School of Law, University of Exeter), Meera Somji (LSE), & Rhianna Ilube (Associate Director, Coney): “The Surrogacy Act”

31 May 16–17 EEST

Charlotte Jones (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, University of Exeter): “Rethinking the ‘Choice’ Paradigm: Seeking Cross-Community Solidarity and Justice for People with Variations of Sex Characteristics”

28 June, 16–17 EEST

A Conversation with Martin Winckler (author)



Register in advance for this meeting at the following link

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Abstracts and bios:

Arctic Periods: Transnational Knowledge about Menstrual History and Wellbeing (preliminary findings)
Dr Camilla Mørk Røstvik & Dr. Saniya Lee Ghanoui

The topic of menstruation is at a critical moment for understanding and action in the Arctic. The Scottish Government funded research project ‘ Arctic Periods: Transnational Knowledge about Menstrual History and Wellbeing’ explores the international aspects of this moment through a multi-disciplinary, multi-lingual and team-based approach. Our project asks: What has been researched and documented about menstruation in the Arctic? In what forms have menstrual activism, art and policy work occurred in the Arctic and
what has been the response among the Arctic countries? How have Indigenous cultures (Native American, Inuit, Sámi) created their own menstrual cultures and addressed issues of period poverty and stigma? With the COVID-19 pandemic and increased attention to inequalities in global and transnational healthcare, how has the Arctic attended to this challenge in connection with menstruation and the menstrual cycle? In this paper, I will present some preliminary findings from the project team (Dr Saniya Lee Ghanoui, Josefin Persdotter, Mie Kusk Søndergaard, Dr Matleena Frisk, Lise Ulrik Andreasen, Tolulope Aina).

Dr Camilla Mørk Røstvik is Lecturer in Modern & Contemporary Art History at the University of Aberdeen. She is the Co-PI of the Menstruation Research Network UK, funded by the Wellcome Trust. Her first book, Cash Flow: The Businesses of Menstruation, is out with UCL Press in 2022, and her second book, The Painters Are In: An Art History of Menstruation, will be out with McGill Queen’s University Press in 2024.

Dr. Saniya Lee Ghanoui is Program Director of Our Bodies Ourselves Today at Suffolk University in Boston. She is trained as a cultural historian and digital humanist of U.S. and European history, with a focus on the intersections of gender and sexuality, medicine, and media. Her current book project explores the history of sex education in the U.S. and Sweden. She is Senior Producer for Sexing History, a podcast on how the history of sexuality shapes our present; an Editor for the global blog Notches: (re)marks on the history of sexuality; and a Board Member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. Follow her on Twitter @Saniya1.

Fertile Forever? Reproduction in the Age of Egg and Sperm Freezing 
Prof. Charlotte Kroløkke

Take control of your fertility and stop time! While egg freezing commercials, in the United States, for several years have encouraged women to put their eggs on ice, companies now employ a discourse of reproductive choice and control in encouraging men to also freeze their fertility. In this presentation, I analyze the commercial efforts in the United States and Europe directed at both women and men. To do so, I situate freezing within feminist scholarship on assisted reproduction, and outline a sociological and affective theoretical frame of hope and anticipation (Adams et al., 2009) as well as notions of biopreparedness (van de Wiel, 2015) to critically discuss how the freezing of reproductive cells can be seen as a form of heteronormative risk management and ‘responsible’ reproductive citizenship.

Charlotte Kroløkke is professor in Cultural Studies in the Department for the Study of Culture at the University of Southern Denmark. She is Head of the Ice Age research project (funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark) in which a group of interdisciplinary scholars study preservation technologies. Theoretically informed by feminist science and technology as well as cultural studies scholars, Charlotte’s work has emerged in different journals such as the European Journal of Cultural StudiesConfigurationsNew Genetics & Society. 

GUYnecology: The Missing Science of Men’s Reproductive Health
Dr Rene Almeling

For more than a century, the medical profession has made enormous efforts to understand and treat women’s reproductive bodies. But only recently have researchers begun to ask basic questions about how men’s health matters for reproductive outcomes, from miscarriage to childhood illness. What explains this gap in knowledge, and what are its consequences? In this talk, sociologist Rene Almeling examines the production, circulation, and reception of biomedical knowledge about men’s reproductive health. From a failed nineteenth-century effort to launch a medical specialty called andrology to the contemporary science of paternal effects, there has been a lack of attention to the importance of men’s age, health, and exposures. Analyzing historical documents, media messages, and qualitative interviews, she discusses how this non-knowledge shapes clinical care, health policy, and reproductive politics today.

Rene Almeling is associate professor of sociology at Yale University, where she holds courtesy appointments in American Studies, the Yale School of Public Health (Department of Health Policy and Management), and the Yale School of Medicine (Section of the History of Medicine). Using a range of qualitative, historical, and quantitative methods, she examines questions about how biological bodies and cultural norms interact to influence scientific knowledge, medical markets, and individual experiences. In addition to GUYnecology, she is the author of Sex Cells, an award-winning book that offers an inside look at the American market for egg donors and sperm donors. Professor Almeling has also conducted two original surveys, the first on Americans’ attitudes toward genetic risk and the other on women’s bodily experiences of in vitro fertilization. With Sebastian Mohr, she is co-editor of a double special issue on “Men, Masculinities, and Reproduction.” Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. 

The Surrogacy Act
Zaina Mahmoud, Meera Somji & Rhianna Ilube 

Join playwright Rhianna Ilube and feminist researchers Zaina Mahmoud and Meera Somji as they present ‘The Surrogacy Act’, a work-in-progress digital game exploring the legal and ethical dilemmas of surrogacy.
What are the experiences of surrogates and intended parents in the UK? In California? In India? How are their choices shaped by different legal systems? What makes surrogacy different from other forms of ‘work’? During this event, you’ll have the opportunity to ‘playtest’ the solo online activity, and learn more about the research and interviews that underpins it.
No prior knowledge about surrogacy or gameplay is necessary – only a curiosity to play and willingness to share some feedback at the end!

“Rethinking the ‘Choice’ Paradigm: Seeking Cross-Community Solidarity and Justice for People with Variations of Sex Characteristics”
Dr Charlotte Jones

This talk considers the political context shaping reproductive issues for people with variations in sex characteristics (VSCs, also referred to as intersex traits or DSDs). Looking beyond the rhetoric of choice, Dr Jones explores the limits placed upon the reproductive options made available and the circumstances under which reproductive decisions can be made. She draws on Reprofutures, a collaborative project which explored how reproductive support could be re-imagined for people with VSCs in the UK, bringing together people with personal experience, support group facilitators, activists, researchers, and campaigners. In doing so, Dr Jones illustrates how a reproductive justice organising framework (Ross and Solinger, 2017) could build cross-community solidarities across disparate ‘patient’/diagnosis-specific groups and activist networks with shared experiences of medical jurisdiction and institutionalised harms.
In the seminar, Dr Jones will discuss how the bodily autonomy, sexual pleasure, and the potentially diverse reproductive futures of people with VSCs have been constrained or obstructed by the curative, heteronormative approach of our healthcare systems, and how resistance and reproductive support can be found through community, care, and a shared mission for justice.

Charlotte Jones is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health (WCCEH), University of Exeter, UK. Her research addresses issues of gender, sexuality, disability, and health, and particularly the intersections of these areas. You can learn more about Charlotte’s work, other projects, and latest publications here.

A Conversation with Martin Winckler (author)

For the last seminar of this season, we will be in conversation with French/Canadian author and physician Martin Winckler. We will talk about reproductive rights, writing, and the intersections between medicine and literature.

Martin Winckler is a French M.D. and short story, novel and essay writer. His novels and essays address the French medical system, the relationships (and power struggles) between caregivers/physicians and patients, patient rights, and women’s health. Among his published works by P.O.L. are: La Vacation (1989); La Maladie de Sachs (1998, published in English as The Case of Dr Sachs, Seven Stories Press 2000); Les Trois Médecins (2004); Le Chœur des femmes (2009); En souvenir d’André (2012); L’Ecole des soignantes (P.O.L, 2019). His essay Les Brutes en Blanc (2016, “Brutes in white coats”) called out the institutionalized brutality of medical practice in France, which enraged the French medical establishment to the point that the “Ordre des médecins” (France’s medical regulatory board) issued a statement to condemn the book as “a caricature of reality”. Since then, many other publications have confirmed his descriptions and analyses. He is also the author of Contraceptions mode d’emploi (2001, 2003 and 2007) and most recently C’est mon corps. Tout ce que veulent savoir les femmes sur leur santé (L’Iconoclaste 2020). He writes on and tweets at @MartinWinckler.