Malaika Rödel: What Matters? Nature, Technology and Gender in the Discourse of PGD
New reproductive technologies have changed our understanding of pregnancy and reproduction. IVF and surrogate motherhood are leading to new forms of family and parenthood, and diagnostic tools like Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) enable us to enhance the body of the embryo and to analyze its genetic constitution and potential diseases. As a result reproduction is no longer solely understood as a natural process, and the dualism of nature and technology becomes fragile. But what kind of nature do we have instead, and what does it mean for gender borders?
Theoreticians like Donna Haraway and Bruno Latour describe the relationship of nature and society as co-productive processes in which nature takes an active part. Seen against this theoretical background, the discourse of PGD is not just about ethical questions and the protection of the embryo vs. research interests and parents who want a healthy child. Instead, we can analyze how nature and gender are described and take form in the discourse.
In my talk I would like to outline gender specific aspects in the German debate about Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). Although Germany is known for its strict embryo protection law (Embryonenschutzgesetz), PGD has been permitted since July 2011. How can the debate be described from a hybrid perspective of nature and society? Can the fracture of nature/culture also loosen the linkage between reproduction and sex, or do we find a reconfiguration of gender borders instead?