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SIEF2011 10th Congress: Lisbon, Portugal.
17-21 April 2011

(P112)

The reproductive body in (un)familiar places: health inequalities in European spaces

Location Block 2, Piso 1, Room 82
Date and Start Time 18 Apr, 2011 at 11:30

Convenors

Lorena Anton (University of Bucharest) email
Laurence Kotobi (University of Bordeaux 2) email
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Short Abstract

Places and circulations have always been shaping the lives of people, especially when those ones were ready to create new lives. Our panel will focus on ethnologies of these intersubjectivities, having as its main object the reproductive body in different European spaces.

Long Abstract

The contemporary European sphere is a sum of complex spaces, where different places are continuously reunited by the existence of a wide range of mobilities of individuals and groups across regional and (or) national borders. Recently, one of its main characteristics has been the so-called 'feminization', especially in regard to its post-1989 trend, i.e. migration from the East to the West. This trend, historically related to the end of communist regimes, determines important rearrangements in gender relations and gender stereotypes, including reproductive health behaviour.

In taking as the main object of inquiries the reproductive body in different European spaces and its government, our panel will focus on ethnographies of the intersubjectivities developed between places, circulations (understood broadly, from roads taken from one place to another at a local level to permanent or occasional migration) and reproductive practices, both of people as reproductive selves and of health professionals (medical body, health associations, etc). How are the lives of the reproductive selves shaped when people find themselves in motion from one place to another? Can a certain place determine different reproductive health practices and different relations to the health-care system? What are the memories of a certain place or of circulations from one place to another, and are those memories 'inscribed' in the reproductive-body? We invite applications in relation, but not limited, to the above research questions.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Inégalités dans l'accès aux soins des femmes migrantes/précaires en santé génésique et reproductive dans la région du Médoc (France)

Author: Laurence Kotobi (University of Bordeaux 2)  email
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Short Abstract

Par cette proposition de communication, nous souhaitons exposer les premiers résultats d'observation d'une enquête qui porte sur la santé des femmes précaires et/ou migrantes, dans la région du Médoc (France), analysée sous l'angle des inégalités sociales et de genre.

Long Abstract

Nous avons choisi de travailler sur l'un des territoires en Aquitaine (France) les plus concernés par la question de l'accès aux soins et qui ne bénéficie pas réellement d'une politique de santé spécifique visant à réduire ce problème - le Médoc. L'étude a pour premier objectif de rendre compte des effets des dispositifs existants ou récemment mis en place sur l'accès et le recours aux soins des femmes en matière de santé reproductive et génésique. Nous tenterons ainsi de comprendre comment ces dispositifs influencent ou déterminent les parcours et itinéraires thérapeutiques et peuvent eux-mêmes produire du non recours ou du renoncement. Le second objectif nous amènera à comprendre comment en même temps que les professionnels de ces structures de santé et du social tentent de répondre aux besoins de ces publics, ils construisent une grille de lecture de ces populations et de leurs situations, centrée le plus souvent sur des caractères présentés comme spécifiques et/ou culturels.

Changing reproductive health behaviour. "Between Senegal and Italy": a case study of giving birth among migrant women

Author: Chiara Quagliariello (European University Institute)  email
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Short Abstract

The identity negotiation, peculiar of migrant condition, involves a reformulation of women's reproductive health behaviour. The establishment of a community of practices allows, counterwise, to transform models of belonging into resources useful to overcome the social and sanitary subalternity.

Long Abstract

An inquiry on the transformations of reproductive health behaviour in migratory context implies the evaluation of two intertwined processes. The first is the crossing of national borders who produces the assumption of new procreative patterns. The second is the admission of people with different cultural backgrounds into the italian health care system. Referring to the findings of ongoing etnographic research within the Senegalese community who populates the Valdelsa area (Siena- Italy) I will try to highlight the processes of identity negotiation embodied in the procreative experience. Moreover, beside this culturalist approach, this paper aims to underscore the forms of health inequalities to which migrant women are subjected. Such inequalities are reflected in a partial access to health resources, in a difficult establishment of relationships with health professionals and in being subjects of stereotyped representations: a condition who forces women to a position of double subalternity, as patients and as strangers. The analysis of such health inequalities will be accompained by a study of some socio-therapeutical practices - transnanational and internal to their peculiar community at the same time - which will be understood as instrument of resistance to a subaltern condition experienced both in the social and in the sanitary realm. In fact the Senegalese culture, inscribed in body's memory, is actualized by women as a resource capable to balance their marginality in the italian health care system: is within the space between power relations and identity negotiation where takes place a community of practices that makes the procreative experience an event "between Senegal and Italy"

Reproductive body, migration projects and European circulations: a case study from a Romanian village

Author: Rodica Zane (University of Bucharest)  email
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Short Abstract

Taking as a case-study the migration practices in the postcommunist Romanian village, the paper proposes an analysis of the way the family’s projects and decisions to emigrate are influenced by the reproductive body and its place in the European East-West migration.

Long Abstract

In the migration practices of postcommunist Romanian, the village represents a place where families are projecting their existence in close relation to the opportunities of work-migration abroad. The networks which are formed in the process of migration determine, in many cases, the circulation of the entire family in different European spaces. The present study is constructed around an analysis on the way the family's projects and the decisions to emigrate are influenced by the reproductive body and its place in the migratory East-West phenomena. The paper is based on a long-term fieldwork in a number of villages from Campulung region, Romanian, where migration is a current phenomenon in which the status of the family and its prestige are playing a central role. Travelling legally and working illegally, without proper papers or a work-permit, often determine the migrant family to acknowledge the fact the places chosen to emigrate are incompatible with the reproductive function of the body. The status of temporary immigrant, without or waiting for proper official papers, excludes the family with an active reproductive body. Consequently, the migration projects are reconfigured and the return 'back home' becomes the only solution in such cases.

L'Européanisation des parcours Trans

Author: Arnaud Alessandrin (Université Bordeaux 2)  email
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Short Abstract

La question du changement de sexe est longtemps restée l’apanage d’équipes hospitalières locales. Mais pour éviter des contraintes jugées trop lourdes et parfois discriminantes, les personnes Trans européanisent leurs parcours, esquissant un « marché européen de production de corps Trans

Long Abstract

Les populations Trans (transsexuelles ou transgenres) participent d'un éclatement des cadres locaux ou nationaux du soin. Par l'élaboration de nouveaux parcours, souvent en marge de ce que les protocoles nationaux de changement de sexe autorisent, elles mettent en œuvre un « marché » de production de corps Trans, que les associations entretiennent par le jeu des réputations (de médecins comme de tribunaux). Déployant une logique de mise en concurrence des droits nationaux entre eux, mais aussi des savoir-faire chirurgicaux, les populations Trans mettent en crise la centralité et la nécessité des règles nationales. Basé sur les exemples transfrontaliers Franco-belge et Franco-espagnol, mon terrain rend visible de nouveaux marchés chirurgicaux européen, à la fois esthétiques et plastiques, privés et publics, ainsi que l'éclosion de nouveaux corps, aux formes et aux fonctions redessinées (Peut-on être un homme enceint ? Peut-on devenir femme tout en gardant ses organes génitaux mâles ? …).

Par cette communication je souhaiterais ainsi mettre en lumière l'explosion des formes de parcours Trans, dans un registre non plus uniquement local mais européen, donc comparatif.

Old practices, new places: Romanian women migrants to France and their reproductive health

Author: Lorena Anton (University of Bucharest)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper presents the intersubjectivities between the communist past and the postcommunist present in terms of politics of reproduction and reproductive health practices in taking contemporary Romanian (women) migrants to France as a case study.

Long Abstract

From 1966 to 1989, the communist regime imposed extreme policies of controlled demography in Romania, as it was imputed, for 'the good of the socialist nation'. Pro-family measures were developed in parallel to the banning of abortion on request and the making of contraception almost inaccessible. Women, forced to seek alternative methods of family planning, rediscovered old fashioned methods of contraception or created new ways of terminating unwanted pregnancies. The consequences of Ceausescu's pronatalism continue to affect Romanian women's reproductive health to this day. Although the legacies of the past are not being debated publically in post-communist Romania, their negative effects become visible at both national and international level when Romanian citizens migrate. Romanian women who migrate to France (to study or work, legally or illegally) are forced to assimilate into and embody another public health system. Intersubjectivities are thus developed between old practices and new places, in terms of reproductive health. The analysis is based on a long term oral history fieldwork on the memory of abortion in communist Romania, as well as related documentation and archives, and an anthropological fieldwork in progress on the Romanian immigrants in South-West France and their reproductive health practices and health-care access.

The (m)othering problem: donor discourses in an ethnography of cross-border reproductive travelling

Author: Jenny Gunnarsson Payne (Södertörn University)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper investigates into the relatively recent, but ever growing, phenomenon of ‘reproductive travelling’ between Sweden and the Baltics. Particular attention is paid to ‘donor discourses’ amongst the recipients of donor eggs and embryos, and the ineradicable ‘memory’ of the anonymous donor.

Long Abstract

In 1978, the world's first 'test-tube' baby was born via in vitro fertilization (IVF). Today, there should be little doubt that this symbolic event has changed human reproduction as it had, up to that point, been known and practiced. This technological revolution has to a significant extent "diversified, globalised, and denaturalised" what had previously been taken for granted. Since, not only have assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) developed and spread throughout the world at a rapid pace, but this has given rise to a global market of cross-border reproductive care.

My research investigates into the relatively recent, but ever growing, phenomenon of 'reproductive travelling', whereby women from, in this case, Sweden travel to private fertility clinics in the former Soviet-state of Latvia as receivers of egg and embryo donation. As part of my developing study, this presentation will, based on interviews and internet material from infertility forums, focus on issues pertaining to the ways in which the recipients of donor eggs and embryos deal with the fact that their future child will unavoidably bear the genetic trace of an anonymous donor, and thus constitute the 'memory' of a person whom they have never met and of whom they know very little. How do they, for example, speak of donor anonymity, choice of a suitable donor, honesty and secrecy in relation to relatives and their future child, and a (real or imagined) pregnancy which has materialised only on the condition of the availability of the tissue and genome of an Other woman?

Cross-border reproductive care and 'procreative tourism' related to new trends of people circulation: the specific case of surrogate mothers and gamete donors

Author: Catarina Delaunay (CESNova – Centro de Estudos de Sociologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa )  email
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Short Abstract

This paper aims to analyse the effects of people circulation on the access to assisted reproductive technologies, namely in terms of individual autonomy and state sovereignty. It does so by addressing issues such as social inequalities, national disparities and the current trends in family structure as well as the commoditization of both the human body and the exchange of biogenetic substances.

Long Abstract

This paper aims to analyse the effects of people circulation on reproductive practices. The creation of the European Union and the Schengen Area, with the contemporary erosion of national borders control has eliminated or, at least, weakened the obstacles to individual mobility. European states have different legislation and ethical principles concerning assisted conception, allowing some technical procedures while criminalizing others. Moreover, we face the emergence of new trends in what regards family configurations, such as same sex couples or single parents. The combination of these three factors creates new phenomena that challenge both the health status of the reproductive body, and the sovereignty of countries as far as the regulation of medically assisted procreative technologies and the safety of individual citizen are concerned. In fact, couples or individuals travel in order to evade restrictive legislation in their own country, sometimes submitting themselves to more precarious healthcare. At the same time, socioeconomic inequalities and the market economy principles, applied to the private sphere, leads to the commodification of the individual body and of human life, in which the commercialization of gametes and the payment for surrogacy are only two examples. This implies the consideration both of the minority claims and the majority views. In other words, it means a balance between individual autonomy - namely what concerns the freedom to organize and program their own reproductive life - and the social control of Biomedicine procedures and personal life trajectories. Building upon my post-doctoral research, I will approach this problem theoretically and through data analysis (ethical committees' reports, legislation, media articles).

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.