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The (In)fertile Valley: Alternative Medicine, Biotechnology, and Life in Silicon Valley

The (In)fertile Valley: Alternative Medicine, Biotechnology, and Life in Silicon Valley
1 Devonshire Place, Room 208N, Munk School of Global Affairs
Time: Nov 29th, 4:00 pm End: Nov 29th, 5:30 pm
Interest Categories: Women/Gender, Women & Gender Studies (FAS), United States Studies, Medicine, Faculty of , East Asian Studies (FAS), Anthropology (UTSC), Anthropology (UTM), Anthropology (FAS), 2000-
Talk by Navreet Nahal

The Centre for the Study of the United States presents Graduate Student Workshop

The (In)fertile Valley: Alternative Medicine, Biotechnology, and Life in Silicon Valley

As biology is becoming increasingly understood as a technology, as something that can be made and re-made, and technology is becoming more ‘biologized,’ what new meanings of ‘natural’ emerge? What does it mean to create a life ‘naturally’ in the context of an intensely materialist, capitalist, and (bio)technological society? How might alternative fertility treatments such as acupuncture, be (re)conceptualized in the context of a dominant framework of Western biomedicine that relies on the normalization of technological advancements like assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs)? Drawing on fieldwork conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area from July-August 2016, this talk will explore the ways in which biomedical knowledge surrounding reproduction is translated, mediated, and contested in the context of alternative fertility clinics. Nahal will pay close attention to the logics of healing and care that are mobilized by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) healthcare practitioners and patients, as they attempt to negotiate between two systems of knowledge – Western biomedicine and TCM – to diagnose and treat infertility.

Navreet Nahal is a Ph.D. student in Medical/Socio-cultural Anthropology, working under the supervision of Dr. Sandra Bamford. Her doctoral research examines the ways in which men and women diagnosed with infertility incorporate various forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine into their treatments (e.g. acupuncture, herbs), rather than solely relying on Western biomedical practices such as assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). While it is clear that many individuals experiencing infertility rely on treatments outside of the normative framework of Western biomedicine, in both academic and public discourse, little is known regarding people’s perceptions, attitudes, and motivations for opting for alternative treatments. Her research site is the San Francisco Bay Area, an area well known for its high concentration of alternative fertility clinics, as well as an enthusiasm to engage with alternative medicine.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is required. For further information, please contact Stella Kyriakakis at 416-946-8972


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