Queering Oocytes: Laboratory, Body, Cell

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2020-05-01

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Abstract

Recent advances in stem cell technology enable new possibilities for biological reproduction among same-sex couples and transgender people who have undergone medical or surgical transition. Despite this promise of revolutionary queer futurity, biomedical science has been harnessed to marginalize the reproductive capacity of the poor, colonized, and people of color for eugenic and capitalist aims. This study draws upon firsthand experiences working in a reproductive biology laboratory and integrates perspectives from feminist science and technology studies, Black feminism, and queer and transgender studies. The work explores how the formation of scientific knowledge (re)produces racialization of reproductive bodies, capitalist manipulation of reproductive potential, and normative temporalities of reproductive bodies. Examining the dynamic plasticity of sexing and gendering gametes within the laboratory reveals a mechanism by which researchers instill their own internalized sex and gender norms onto their research subjects, essentializing sex and gender hierarchies across species, tissue, and cell boundaries. In vitro gametogenesis, an assisted reproductive technology on the horizon of human use, invites a politics of multiplicity through which to understand all mammalian tissues as potentially reproductive. This novel reproductive future elucidates the interconnections between human and animal reproduction within and beyond the laboratory context and enables groundbreaking new opportunities for interspecies reproductive intimacy and queer reproductive futurity. Ultimately, the work takes an ambivalent view of emergent reproductive technologies, acknowledging their reinforcement of eugenic and economizing racial logics even as they queer human and animal bodies, tissues, and cells and revolutionize kinship and reproductive capacity for bodies deemed non-normative.

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Zussman, Jay (2020). Queering Oocytes: Laboratory, Body, Cell. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/21159.


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