Queering Reproduction

Achieving Pregnancy in the Age of Technoscience

Queering Reproduction

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 6 illustrations, 5 tables, 1 figure Published: September 2007

Author: Laura Mamo

Gender and Sexuality > Queer Theory, Science and Technology Studies, Sociology

Originally developed to help heterosexual couples, fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization and sperm donation have provided lesbians with new methods for achieving pregnancy during the past two decades. Queering Reproduction is an important sociological analysis of lesbians’ use of these medical fertility treatments. Drawing on in-depth interviews with lesbians who have been or are seeking to become pregnant, Laura Mamo describes how reproduction has become an intensely medicalized process for lesbians, who are transformed into fertility patients not (or not only) because of their physical conditions but because of their sexual identities. Mamo argues that this medicalization of reproduction has begun to shape queer subjectivities in both productive and troubling ways, destabilizing the assumed link between heterosexuality and parenthood while also reinforcing traditional, heteronormative ideals about motherhood and the imperative to reproduce.

Mamo provides an overview of a shift within some lesbian communities from low-tech methods of self-insemination to a reliance on outside medical intervention and fertility treatments. Reflecting on the issues facing lesbians who become parents through assisted reproductive technologies, Mamo explores questions about the legal rights of co-parents, concerns about the genetic risks of choosing an anonymous sperm donor, and the ways decisions to become parents affect sexual and political identities. In doing so, she investigates how lesbians navigate the medical system with its requisite range of fertility treatments, diagnostic categories, and treatment trajectories. Combining moving narratives and insightful analysis, Queering Reproduction reveals how medical technology reconfigures social formations, individual subjectivity, and notions of kinship.


“A welcome addition to the conversation on the biomedicalization of reproduction . . . destabilizes the taken-for-granted trajectories of parenthood so embedded in heteronormative cultural consciousness.” — Patrick R. Grzanka, Symbolic Interaction

“Mamo’s complex and multi-sited ethnography and her beautifully written and incisive analysis of the stories and accounts she finds there, will be of interest to scholars working within the fields of infertility and biomedicalisation, LGBTQ lives and politics, to students of ethnography and social science and to health practioners and clinicians working within reproductive medicine and health, as well as to those interested more broadly in thinking about the relationships between technologies, bodies and identities.” — Tracey Jensen, Feminist Review

“The book is well written and provides deep analysis of modern, technoscientific medical world dealing with reproduction. It is undoubtedly worth reading, especially if you are [a] single woman or a lesbian planning to set up to set up [a] family.” — Feminist Review Blog

“The book’s strength is its smart, rich, and textured understanding of the past and present of lesbian communities’ negotiations of reproduction, an account that will seem deeply familiar to some readers and not at all to others. This written account of a largely oral and memory-based narrative is a tremendous resource for students and anyone who has not been inside or in close proximity to urban lesbian communities since the mid-1980s in the United States.” — Laura Briggs, GLQ

“The research is meticulous and thorough and the interview data are sensitively handled, and beautifully contextualized from a range of sources. It is an enormously accessible text and the writing style is very engaging. It is also highly original in scope. . . . This book engages with debates about the politics of reproduction, feminist analysis of technoscience, and lesbian and queer identity politics. It does so in a rigorous, well-informed and engaging way, while drawing on a wealth of impressively constructed empirical data.” — Kate O'Riordan, Body & Society

Queering Reproduction is the most comprehensive and theoretically rich account of lesbians’ reproductive practices to date. Laura Mamo shows how social movements, emotions, consumerism, and biomedical technologies collide with the search for belonging to produce brave new families. She documents how sex without reproduction and reproduction without sex lead to myriad unintended consequences that both queer and normalize. A terrific book.” — Arlene Stein, author of Shameless: Sexual Dissidence in American Culture


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Laura Mamo is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Affiliate Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies and Lesbian and Gay Studies at the University of Maryland.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Chapter 1. From Whence We Came: Sex without Reproduction Meets Reproduction without Sex 23

Chapter 2. “Real Lesbians Don’t Have Kids” or Do They? Getting Ready for Lesbian Motherhood 58

Chapter 3. Choosing a Donor: Gaining, Securing, and Seeking Legitimacy 86

Chapter 4. Negotiating Conception: Lesbians’ Hybrid-Technology Practices 128

Chapter 5. Going High-Tech: Infertility Expertise and Lesbian Reproductive Practices 157

Chapter 6. Affinity Ties as Kinship Device 190

Chapter 7. Imagining Futures of Belonging 224

Notes 251

Works Cited 273

Index 295
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4078-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4057-7
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