2020 Hixon Forum

Reproductive Technologies, Reproductive Justice
February 7–8, 2020

A two-day working conference at Harvey Mudd College brought together a small collection of scholars working on technologies related to reproduction at all stages, including pre-conception, pregnancy, birth and postnatal care, with a focus on issues of equity, access and/or ethics.

The organizer of this broad, interdisciplinary conference was Alyssa Newman, a sociologist of race and ethnicity. Her research interests center on the production of racial meaning with a focus on multiraciality. She explores these topics through research projects relating to collective identity formation; biology and genetics; the intersection of mixedness and masculinity; as well as family relationships and reproduction. As the Hixon-Riggs Early Career Fellow in Science and Technology Studies, she is especially interested in assisted reproductive technologies and how they reinforce notions of racial difference.

Newman received a PhD in sociology with a doctoral emphasis in black studies from the University of California Santa Barbara. Her undergraduate degree is also in sociology from the University of California Berkeley, where she minored in African American studies and demography. Her research on multiraciality highlights the ways in which racialized stereotypes shape notions of mixed-race desirability. Specifically, it traces shifting perceptions of mixedness from early portrayals of “hybrid-degeneracy” to the current celebratory and valorized constructions of multiraciality.

Conference Sessions and Presenters

Friday, Feb. 7

Session 1 — 1-3 p.m.
• Vivien Hamilton, History of Science, Harvey Mudd College: “Mechanical Womb and Artificial Mother: Designing the Infant Incubator 1900-1950’s”
• Sara DiCaglio, English, Texas A&M: “Absent Technologies: Cervical Interventions and Rhetorics of Birth”
• Natali Valdez, Anthropology, Wellesley: “Pregnant Biobits: Time, Matter, and Value in Late Capitalism”
• Daisy Deomampo, Anthropology, Fordham: “Technologies of Racial Capitalism: Race, Value, and Human Egg Donation”

Session 2 — 3:30-5:30 p.m.
• Jenny Dyck Brian, Bioethics, Arizona State University: “The Trouble with ‘Magic’ and ‘Bullets’: The Nine Lives of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception”
• Ugo Edu, African American Studies, UCLA: “Hierarchical Medicalization, Reproductive Rights, Sterilization, and the Production of a Fugitive Rights-Bearer”
• Santiago J. Molina, Sociology, UC Berkeley: “The Banality of Scientific Progress: An Etiology of the #CRISPRbabies Controversy”

Saturday, Feb. 8

Session 3 — 9–10:30 a.m.
• Katherine Tierney, Sociology, UNC Chapel Hill: “‘It’s in the Zeitgeists’: Knowledge and Perceptions of ART Among Black and White Women Pursuing Graduate Education”
• Camisha Russell, Philosophy, University of Oregon: “Ideal Families and Familiar Ideologies”
• Alyssa Newman, Sociology and STS, Harvey Mudd College: “Choosing Race, Choosing Identity: Biology, Culture, and the Achievement of Racial Authenticity through the Selection of a Sperm Donor”

Session 4 — 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
• April Hovav, Institute for Practical Ethics, UC San Diego: “Managing the Stigma of Surrogacy: Surrogate and Intended Parent Narratives in Mexico”
• Kristen Cheney, Children and Youth Studies, International Institute of Social Studies: “The Need for Children’s Perspectives on Reproductive Technologies”
• Bridget Harr, Sociology, University of New England: Donor-Conceived Siblings

Session 5 — 1:30-3 p.m.
• Alizeh Bhojani, AP Human Rights Policy Counsel, Center for Reproductive Rights: “Human-Rights Based Approach to Assisted Reproduction”
• Alicia Bonaparte, Sociology, Pitzer College: “Global Maternal Health and Black Feminist Sociology: Diasporic Research and Interventions as Advocacy”
• Alexandrina Agloro, Science, Technology, and Innovation, Arizona State University, “Ethics of Reproductive Justice Research: Fieldnotes from Community-Based Methodologies”

Session 6 — Closing Reflections Panel — 3:30-5 p.m.
• Moderator: Francine Coeytaux, Pacific Institute for Women’s Health
• Participants: ART working group members (Ugo, April, Alizeh, Kristen, Daisy)