Cosponsor
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities | Columbia University
Organizer
  • Motherhood and Technology Group
Notes
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration information to come

A conference hosted by the Motherhood and Technology Working Group at the Center for the Study of Social Difference on the theme of "Conception and Its Discontents."

Medical technologies have radically transformed the biological and social experience of motherhood. Advances in genomic and reproductive care, the circulation of novel kinship structures, the entrenchment of existing global networks of power and privilege, and the politics of contested bodily sites mark this emerging constellation.

Technological advancements have in particular impacted not just the understanding of conception, but the very process by which a human embryo is created, implanted, and matured. Egg freezing, embryo storage, IVF, and surrogacy afford women new freedoms in choosing when and how to become mothers, while also raising troubling questions about the pressures of capitalism and the extension of worklife, as well as the global inequalities present in the experience of motherhood. In addition, technologies have arisen allowing for unprecedented control over not just who becomes a mother, but what kind of embryo is allowed to be implanted and to grow. Technologies such as CRISPR and NIPT have re-introduced the question of eugenics, radically shifting the very epistemology of motherhood and what it means to be “expecting.” And contemporary abortion debates draw on technology in order to make arguments both for and against access, with imaging technologies being instrumentalized in the building of a sympathetic case for the unborn, and the very notion of a “heartbeat bill” reliant on the misreading of technologies for measuring fetal activity.

While these problems are urgent today, questions of conception and technology are by no means recent developments. The 18th century saw a flourishing of philosophical and scientific theories regarding the start of human life and its formation within the womb. Such theories relied on modern technologies, such as autopsy, to atomize and visualize the body. In the 19th and 20th centuries, eugenic medical science produced theories of reproductive difference between differing racial and social groups, leading to forced sterilization laws in both the US and in Germany. This long history of racializing the rhetoric of fertility and motherhood continues to influence political debates on immigration and demographic changes in the present.

Full conference details and schedule to come.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs

Image © Loie Hollowell, courtesy Pace Gallery.


Program

May 8, 2023  Monday

8:30am - 8:45am EST

Coffee

8:45am - 9:00am EST

Welcome

Rishi Goyal

Director of Medical Humanities at ICLS; Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine

Columbia University

Arden Hegele

Lecturer in the Discipline of English and Comparative Literature

Columbia University

9:00am - 10:30am EST

Surrogacy: Perils and Pitfalls of the 2021 NY State Law Permitting Commercial Gestational Surrogacy
Not Your Grandmother’s Surrogacy: Looking Back to Better Move Forward

Nancy Reame

Department of Nursing

Columbia University

Concerns and Recommendations for Legislative Amendments to Improve the Rights of All Third-Party Participants in Commercial Gestational Surrogacy in NY State

Wendy Chavkin

Mailman School of Public Health

Columbia University

Linda Kahn

NYU School of Medicine

New York University

Surrogacy360: a Global Perspective on Commercial Surrogacy

Diana Namumbejja Abwoye

Author

Our Bodies, Ourselves Today

What Can New York Learn from Surrogacy in Ukraine and Canada?

Alison Motluk

Freelance journalist

Must We Be Pragmatists?

Yasmine Ergas

School of International and Public Affairs

Columbia University

10:30am - 11:00am EST

Historical Perspectives on Conception
The Ensoulment of the Embryo in the Passive Receptacle of the Mother: Philosophical Views of Embryology in Aristotle, Galen, Aquinas, and Dante

Chas Firestone East

Ph.D. candidate in Italian and Comparative Literature and Society

Columbia University

Latin, Spices, Dates, and Pregnancy: An Intersectional Reading of Early Modern Domestic Medical Recipes

Mansi Garneni

Undergraduate

Columbia University

The Missionary’s Position: Pursuing Abortion Doctors in Colonial India

Niyati Shenoy

Ph.D. student in in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies

Columbia University

Forget It: A Literary History of IUDs

Lilith Todd

Ph.D. candidate in Columbia's Department of English and Comparative Literature

Columbia University

12:30pm - 1:30pm EST

Technologies of Reproduction
Algorithms, Apps, and Abortion: U.S. Law and Pregnancy in the Age of Data Privacy

Rosemary O’Mahony

Columbia University

Immaterial Intimacy: Digital, Neoliberal Labor in Reproductive Justice Direct Service Organizing

Jessica Gantt-Shafer

Assistant Professor of Communication

University of Missouri-Kansas City

Imaging the Digital Native: Ultrasound Technology in the History of Personal Computation

Rose Rowson

Ph.D. candidate in the Modern Culture and Media Department

Brown University

Follicular Speculation

Stefanie Sobelle

Associate Professor of English

Gettysburg College

3:00pm - 3:30pm EST

Coffee

3:30pm - 5:30pm EST

Exploring Canadians’ Experiences of Assisted Reproduction: A Snapshot of Current Empirical Research Studies
Surrogacy Laws in Canada: Exploring Intended Parents’ Experiences and Perspectives

Stefanie Carsley

Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law

University of Ottawa

Surrogates’ Voices: Exploring Surrogates’ Experiences and Insights

Vanessa Gruben

Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law

University of Ottawa

Stefanie Carsley

Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law

University of Ottawa

Alana Cattapan

Assistant Professor of Political Science

University of Waterloo

Ova Obscura: Egg Donors in Canada

Alana Cattapan

Assistant Professor of Political Science

University of Waterloo

Vanessa Gruben

Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law

University of Ottawa

Kathleen Hammond

Assistant Professor in the Lincoln Alexander School of Law

Toronto Metropolitan University

Elective Egg Freezing in Canada: Towards Appropriate Regulation Governing Consent

Kathleen Hammond

Assistant Professor in the Lincoln Alexander School of Law

Toronto Metropolitan University

Alana Cattapan

Assistant Professor of Political Science

5:30pm - 6:15pm EST

Wine and Cheese Reception at Heyman Center

May 9, 2023  Tuesday

8:30am - 9:00pm EST

Coffee

9:00am - 10:30am EST

Testing and the Law from Conception to Birth
Pregnancy Testing Before and After Roe

Karen Weingarten

Associate Professor of English

Queens College, City University of New York

Sex in Limbo: NIPT and the (in)Determination of Fetal Sex in Belgium

Shana Riethof

ULiège

Misreading Medicine: Statutory Prohibitions of Abortion for Disability

Megan Glasmann

Third year law student at S.J. Quinney College of Law

University of Utah

10:30am - 11:00am EST

Coffee

11:00am - 12:30pm EST

Narrative and Cultural Technologies of Reproduction
Products of Conception, Imaging, and Imagining the Maternal-Foetal Relationship

Sabina Dosani

doctoral researcher in Creative and Critical Writing

University of East Anglia

The Disabled (M)other: Critiquing Cultural Constructions of Motherhood in the Age of the ‘Post-Nuclear’ Family

Jess Gallagher

Human Rights Studies Masters student

Columbia University

Self-Unveiling: Techno-Maternal Ambiguities in Contemporary Visual Arts

Diana Novaceanu

MD/ Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Studies

University of Bucharest

The Experiences of Pregnancy, Delivery, and Newborn Parenting during COVID-19 as Understood through Metaphor

Laura Crook

Masters student in English & Comparative Literature

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

12:30pm - 1:30pm EST

Closing Remarks (CSSD Board) and Lunch

(vegan/gluten-free options available)

1:30pm - 3:30pm EST

Closed Session 1: Motherhood and Technology Working Group
On Authority: Disability, Gender Reveal Parties, and My Daughter

George Estreich

Instructor at the School of Writing, Literature, and Film

Oregon State University

Remediating Mother: Neonatal Technology and Conceptions of Infancy

Hannah Zeavin

Assistant Professor of Informatics

Indiana University, Bloomington

Seahorse Fathers and Legal Mothers

Jennifer Luong

Faculty of Law

University of Toronto

Above Average: A Somewhat True Comic Story of Parenting, Disability, and Technology

Rachel Adams

Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Columbia University

Moderator

Rishi Goyal

Director of Medical Humanities at ICLS; Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine

Columbia University

3:30pm - 4:00pm EST

Closed Session 2: Motherhood and Technology Working Group
What are you ‘Expecting’? NIPT, Ultrasound, and the Epistemology of Pregnancy

Helen Zhao

6th Year Ph.D. student in Philosophy

Columbia University

Skye Savage

Ph.D. student in Germanic Languages

Columbia University

Wilful Misreadings of Ectopic Pregnancy in the Eighteenth and Twenty-First Centuries

Katherine Bergevin

PhD Candidate in English and Comparative Literature

Columbia University

Eurabia and the Great Replacement: Conspiracy Theories of Masculinity, Reproduction, and the Islamization of the West

Aya Labanieh

Ph.D. candidate in English and Comparative Literature

Columbia University

Moderator

Arden Hegele

Lecturer in the Discipline of English and Comparative Literature

Columbia University

6:00pm EST

Closing