BIOS Lecture – Racial Futurity: IVF Technologies and the Question of Life’s Continuation

BIOS Lecture
Racial Futurity: IVF Technologies and the Question of Life’s Continuation
Nadine Ehlers Thursday, 21 March 2019, 4.30 – 6.30 pm
King’s College London, Virginia Woolfe Building, Room 3.01
22 Kingsway, London WC2B 6LE

The Department of Global Health and Social Medicine and the Biotechnology and Society Research Group (BioS, King’s College London) kindly invite you to this afternoon lecture on Racial Futurity: IVF Technologies and the Question of Life’s Continuation by Nadine Ehlers.

This lecture considers how IVF donor insemination technologies can open the possibilities for the denial of black life. It asks: how might the birth of black child to a white mother—by way of donor insemination—be conceived as a “wrongful birth,” as it was in the 2014 Illinois Northern District Court case of Cramblett v. Midwest Sperm Bank? How is it that someone’s race—in this case the blackness of a newborn—can be viewed and used as a measure of injury (against a white parent) for which compensation or legal reparation was demanded? And, lastly, what does this case reflect about the perceived value—or lack thereof—of black life in America and the possibilities of and for racial futurity, understood as the guarantee of life’s continuation? Cramblett squarely placed the question of the valuation of black life before the law, which was used here to adjudicate the personal rights of the mother against her child. In this assessment of biolegality, fundamental questions of the intersections of law, biology, and society are brought into stark relief, highlighting the challenges presented through bioscientific-technological interventions into ‘life itself.’

NADINE EHLERS is based in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney. She is the author of Racial Imperatives: Discipline, Performativity, and Struggles against Subjection (Indiana University Press, 2012), co-editor (with Leslie Hinkson) of Subprime Health: Debt and Race in U.S. Medicine (University of Minnesota Press, 2017), and co-author (with Shiloh Krupar) of the forthcoming Deadly Biocultures: The Ethics of Life-making (University of Minnesota Press, 2019).

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