Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Cellular Dis-Positions: Biotechnocultural Landscapes of Reproduction and Development in Ghana

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

12 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

Lunch will be provided.

Embryology, surrogacy and assisted reproduction are privately practiced in Ghanaian fertility clinics, which are part of an emerging distinct social reality of “reproducing new [cosmopolitan] African futures” (Weiss 2010). The division of cells in a petri dish represents a microcosm of contemporary West African kinship systems, reproductive stratification, gender relations, neoliberal consumerism and (bio)/political exigencies. Within this shifting technoscape of kinship and biomedical belonging, patient narratives and other social commentaries often reflect a new boundary of "scientific" personhood that makes a distinction between the competing roles of culture, machines, and the body. "Cellular Dis-positions" examines ethnographic narratives that reveal a new technoculture of reproduction as part of an emerging discourse surrounding the biomedical practices of embryology laboratories, fertility clinics and surrogacy-maternity wards in Ghana.

Maya Mesola is a medical ethnographer and anthropological demographer. She is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology and the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University. She is currently completing research on the politics of fertility and infertility in Ghana, with a focus on family planning policies, assisted reproductive technologies, embryology and surrogacy.

Africa Initiative