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Making babies: Conception as mechanical reproduction

Thursday, 27 August 2020 - 9:30am
"IVF image." by CNBP is licensed under CC BY 2.0

James Mumford, a Visiting Fellow with the McDonald Centre, describes the way reproduction has been mechanized, where procreation becomes a production and where, for example, the foetus is to be described as a 'product of conception'. In his essay, "The age of mechanical reproduction: how technology has reified conception," (The New Statesman, 28 August – 3 September 2020) Mumford argues the technological age trains us to see everything as mere matter, stuff awaiting the instrumental making of things which are to be used, used up, or, if defective, thrown out. Mumford suggests, drawing from Theodor Adorno, this sort of technological imaginary not only requires but also nurtures a forgetting that, when directed toward conception, disciplines a way of seeing human life as a manufactured artefact of technological prowess. Persons thus trained to observe procreation as a taking hold of nature to craft it to form forget the fact that procreation is a 'sharing of one's being'. Parents trained to consider conception in the age of mechanical reproduction forget that 'they are giving what they have been given: human life'.

To read Mumford's essay in full, go to The New Statesman here. Alternatively, you can download a .pdf of the article here.




"IVF image." by CNBP is licensed under CC BY 2.0