Upcoming Events

[VIRTUAL] Birth controlled

  10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
   On Zoom (Off Campus)

Elora Shehabuddin
Amrita Pande
Banu Subramaniam
C Sathyamala
Vasudha Mohanka
Meghna Mukherjee
Johanna Gondouin
Sanchita B. Saxena

The Center on Contemporary India invites you to a panel discussion on Birth controlled: Selective reproduction and neoliberal eugenics in South Africa and India, a new book edited by Amrita Pande, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Cape Town.

UCB event discount code for purchasing Birth controlled:
UCB30, for 30% off the book if ordered on MUP website https://manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/9781526160546/

DATE: Tuesday, September 20, 2022
TIME: 10am Berkeley | Calculate Your Local Time
REGISTER: Zoom Registration


Birth controlled analyses the world of selective reproduction - the politics of who gets to legitimately reproduce the future - through a cross-cultural analysis of three modes of 'controlling' birth: contraception, reproductive violence and repro-genetic technologies. It argues that as fertility rates decline worldwide, the fervour to control fertility, and fertile bodies, does not dissipate; what evolves is the preferred mode of control. Although new technologies like those that assist conception or allow genetic selection may appear to be an antithesis of other violent versions of population control, this book demonstrates that both are part of the same continuum. All population control policies target and vilify women (Black women in particular), and coerce them into subjecting their bodies to state and medical surveillance; Birth controlled argues that assisted reproductive technologies and repro-genetic technologies employ a similar and stratified burden of blame and responsibility based on gender, race, class and caste.

To empirically and historically ground the analysis, the book includes contributions from two postcolonial nations, South Africa and India, examining interactions between the history of colonialism and the economics of neoliberal markets and their influence on the technologies and politics of selective reproduction.

The book provides a critical, interdisciplinary and cutting-edge dialogue around the interconnected issues that shape reproductive politics in an ostensibly 'post-population control' era. The contributions draw on a breadth of disciplines ranging from gender studies, sociology, medical anthropology, politics and science and technology studies to theology, public health and epidemiology, facilitating an interdisciplinary dialogue around the interconnected modes of controlling birth and practices of neo-eugenics.

Amrita Pande, author of Wombs in Labor: Transnational Commercial Surrogacy in India (Columbia University Press, 2014) is Associate Professor in the Sociology Department at University of Cape Town. Her research focuses on the intersection of globalisation and the intimate. Her work has appeared in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Gender and Society, Critical Social Policy, International Migration Review, Qualitative Sociology, Feminist Studies, Indian Journal of Gender Studies, Anthropologica, PhiloSO- PHIA, Reproductive Biomedicine and in numerous edited volumes. She is also an educator-performer touring the world with a performance lecture series, Made in India: Notes from a Baby Farm based on her ethnographic work on surrogacy. She is currently writing a monograph on the ‘global fertility flows’, of eggs, sperms, embryos and wombs, connecting the world in unexpected ways.

C. Sathyamala is a public health physician and an epidemiologist. Since the early 1980s, she has been active in both the health and women’s movement in India. In 1982, she coordinated the first successful all India drug campaign against the Hormonal Pregnancy Tests (high fixed dose estrogen-progesterone combination drugs). She was one of the main architects of the case against the injectable contraceptive NET-EN (Norethisterone enanthate; Schering AG) filed in the Supreme Court of India, which questioned the safety of this contraceptive and raised ethical/legal concerns on human experimentation. As part of the initiative of the Medico Friend Circle and as an independent researcher, she coordinated two popula- tion based epidemiological studies on the people exposed to the toxic gases from the American Multinational Union Carbide Corpora- tion factory in Bhopal, central India, in December 1984. She is a long term member of the Medico Friend Circle, an all India network of socially sensitive health professionals and worked as the editor of the organisation’s bimonthly journal. She has authored and co- authored several books. She adapted David Werner’s Where There is No Doctor for India (adaptation for India, New Delhi: Voluntary Health Association of India, 2014), co-authored Taking Sides: The Choices Before the Health Worker (Madras: Asian Network for Innovative Training Trust, 1984), a book on the political economy of health for field workers, internationally judged as one of the top ten books in primary healthcare (see J. J. Macdonald (1987) ‘Ten best books in ... primary health care’, Health Policy and Planning 2:4, 352–4), authored An Epidemiological Review of the Injectable Contraceptive, Depo-Provera (Medico Friend Circle (Pune) and Forum for Women (Mumbai), 2000), co-edited Securing Health for All: Dimensions and Challenges (Institute for Human Development, 2006), and co-authored From the Abnormal to the Normal: Preventing Sex Selective Abortions through the Law (The Lawyers Collective, 2007).

Banu Subramaniam, is Professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Trained as a plant evolutionary biologist, Banu engages the feminist studies of science in the practices of experimental biology. Author of Holy Science: The Biopolitics of Hindu Nationalism (University of Washington Press, 2019) and Ghost Stories for Darwin: The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity (University of Illinois Press, 2014), Banu’s current work focuses on decolonising botany and the relation- ship of science and religious nationalism in India.

Meghna Mukherjee is a PhD candidate at University of California Berkeley in the Department of Sociology. Her main research interests revolve around the social inequalities arising alongside emerging fertility and genetic technologies. Meghna’s research is comparative between the US and India, and interrogates how medicalised spaces in both sites are reinforcing social hierarchies and reconstituting health and family-building. Prior to her PhD, Meghna worked in the non-profit and social development field in New York City, and pursued research related to commercial reproductive labour policies in India. Meghna graduated Magna Cum Laude from Columbia University with a BA in Sociology (honors) and Human Rights (2015) and holds an MA in Sociology from UC Berkeley (2019).

Vasudha Mohanka is an independent researcher interested in reproduc- tive politics (repro)nationalism, phenomenology, transformation of the body and eugenics.

Johanna Gondouin is Assistant Professor in Gender Studies at Linköping University, with a background in comparative literature and film studies. Her areas of expertise are postcolonial feminist theory and critical race and whiteness studies, with a specific focus on reproduction and reproductive technologies. She has recently completed the research project Mediating Global Motherhood: Gender, Race and Sexuality in Swedish Media Representations of Transnational Surrogacy and Transnational Adoption, funded by the Swedish Research Council, and is currently leading the research project From Waste to Profit: Gender, Biopolitics and Neoliberalism in Indian Commercial Surrogacy, also funded by the Swedish Research Council. She has published her research in journals such as Critical Race and Whiteness Studies, Catalyst and Economic & Political Weekly.


Established in 2013 with a generous gift from the Subir & Malini Chowdhury Foundation, The Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies at UC Berkeley champions the study of Bangladesh’s cultures, peoples and history. The first of its kind in the US, the Center’s mission is to create an innovative model combining research, scholarships, the promotion of art and culture, and the building of ties between institutions in Bangladesh and the University of California.

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