Gender, Body, Biomedicine: How Some Feminist Concerns Dragged Reproduction to the Center of Social Theory


This article tracks the growth of medical anthropology in the United States in the decades since the 1970s, as it has intersected the expansion of feminist activism and scholarship. I argue that feminist attention to embodied inequalities quickly focused on reproduction as a site of investigation and intervention. Medical anthropology has benefited from feminist concern with stratified reproduction, especially its interrogation of nonnormative and stigmatized fertility and childbearing. When reproduction becomes problematic, it provides a lens through which cultural norms, struggles, and transformations can be viewed. Examples drawn from prenatal diagnosis are particularly revelatory of the diverse interests and stakes we all hold in reproduction.