The Pregnancy Manifesto: Notes on How to Extract Reproduction from the Petri Dish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article draws on 200 stories of procreation in an effort to revise a key-narrative about how humans come into being in technological societies. Before assigning Emily Martin’s famous article “the egg and the sperm,” I asked Israeli undergraduates to explain to a beloved girl how children come into the world. Their narratives included detailed accounts of sperm-ovum encounters as if envisioned through a microscope; the process of pregnancy was missing from most of the stories. My analysis illuminates the local politics of technologized reproduction underlying the invisibility of women’s procreative labor and suggests an alternative story of procreation as hard work done by women’s bodies within somatic and social environments. The discussion points beyond students’ narratives, at the reluctance of anthropologists of reproduction to take up pregnancy as a unit of social analysis. With the emergence of the new genomic sciences, studies of the political ecology of procreative labor become urgent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-289
Number of pages16
JournalMedical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2015 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • egg and sperm
  • genomic science
  • political ecology
  • procreative labor
  • reproductive technologies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology


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