How does our understanding of the past change when we center the politics of reproduction? This seminar invites students to approach 20th/21st century global history through the history of reproductive technology. Each week, we will follow specific technologies – including IUDs, pills, vacuum aspirators, and sperm banks – across different geographies. We will situate the development and use of these technologies in relation to racialized histories of colonialism, feminist movements, Cold War conflicts, postcolonial state-making, and contemporary right-wing nationalisms. We will ask: how have ideas about reproductive technologies mobilized and remade conceptions of race, gender, sexuality, class, caste, and ability?

The course title is inspired by a text on the syllabus, Michelle Murphy’s Seizing the Means of Reproduction: Entanglements of Feminism, Health, and Technoscience (2012).