Eleni Skaperdas (UCLA Sociology): Is Knowledge Power? Women’s Resistance to a Quantified Pregnancy
Abstract: Accompanying the industrialization of the human genome is a rapid expansion in prenatal genetic screening and testing. As clinicians implement these advanced genetic tools in practice women are increasingly inundated with uncertain knowledge about their pregnancy. Market interests, these reproductive biotechnologies, state-supported prenatal screening and diagnosis, and the biomedical ideal of “informed choice” intersect to create a culture dominated by the imperative to know about the developing fetus within prenatal care. Drawing on ethnographic observations and in-depth interviews in a maternal-fetal medicine clinic catering to women of higher socioeconomic status, this article outlines women’s resistance to this generative force of knowledge-making. I outline how relying on not knowing and emotional calculus to make reproductive decisions requires active resistance, in some cases defiance, when women are faced with the discursively dominant ideology that “knowledge is power.”
The Irene Flecknoe Ross Lecture Series is made possible by a gift from Ray Ross in memory of his wife.
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