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Rachel Berger – ‘Love’ Makes a Family?: Unconventional Baby-Making, Homonational Affects, and New Terrains of ‘Choice’ in Queer Times

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5 à 7
April 12, 2016
Time: 12:00-2:00pm

Feminist Media Studio
CJ Building, 2.130
Concordia University
7141 Sherbrooke W
Montreal (Qc)

This presentation seeks to explore the moral pragmatics and possibilities of making families outside the bounds of conventional reproduction as represented in popular cultural production. Taking as a starting point 2010’s trifecta of films focused on children conceived with the help of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) — The Kids are All Right, The Switch, and The Back-up Plan, – it will explore the ways in which discourses of unconventional reproduction are made morally acceptable and politically benign through the affective narratives of “love” that serve as the impetus for said parents to (pro-)create their children within the civically acceptable bounds of the (homo)national family. Together, these films normalize ART as a key factor in new discussions of reproductive ‘choice’: questions of timing, planning and the ideation of the ‘right’ moment for reproduction reconstitute the notion of choice on neo-liberal grounds. This provides the impetus for addressing the ‘othered’ mothers – the teen mom, the reproductive immigrant/alien mom, the welfare queen, the ART abuser (octomom), – all of whom reproduce outside of this discourse of choice, without direction or control over their overly fecund bodies, thus rendering them abject subjects of neo-liberal governance. Ultimately, this presentation argues that the “loving” imperative to make family in the face of unconventional circumstances is anything but a quirky retelling of an older story full of new possibilities for social enlightenment; instead, these narratives further entrench tropes of acceptable citizenship, (homo)national belonging, and the imagined community of American Empire, and in so doing limit the possibilities of truly radical futures of kinship, social configuration and networks of care.