FYS: The Politics of Reproduction


The idea that the “personal” is “political” finds no greater example than in the politics of reproduction. From inheritance laws, the rights of the offspring of enslaved peoples, or policies to reduce (or increase) fertility, the modern nation state has had a great deal to say about the use and produce of human bodies. In this First-Year Seminar, we will examine how formal and informal institutions have governed reproductive practices over the past 200 years. We will look at how family structures and economic development map onto fertility, and at how technological innovations in fertility control (including birth control and IVF) have influenced women’s economic and political participation. We will also consider whether reproductive policies have differential impacts for LGBTQ households. Finally, we examine the “dark side” of reproductive policies — not only sterilization campaigns but also the treatment of sex workers and sex-selective abortion — to understand how state policies have divided households based on race, class, and occupation.

Please visit the Office of the Registrar for more information about this course.