Beyond the Womb? Posthuman Parturitions in Joanna Kavenna’s «The Birth of Love»

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    • Publication Information:
      Università di Napoli Federico II, 2015.
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    • Abstract:
      This essay reflects on a number of issues related to mothering and the possible repercussions of the introduction of ectogenesis, gestation outside the womb, for women and society. Some of these new scenarios appear dramatized in Joanna Kavenna’s The Birth of Love (2010), a novel that includes a vision of a dystopian future where artificial wombs are used and women no longer get pregnant, contrasted with the present-day situation. Will a society in which artificial wombs have replaced pregnancy and birth be fundamentally different from our own? Will pregnant embodiment be a thing of the past? Will ectogenesis irreversibly change human nature? Significantly, in recent utopian and dystopian fiction as well as cinema the absence of women as mothers is striking, with women no longer performing a reproductive role and artificial wombs taking the place of the maternal uterus, while in most science fiction films pregnancy has basically disappeared. In worlds where eggs or ovarian tissue can be created in the lab and gestation carried out wholly outside the maternal uterus, women can become redundant. This ectogenetic imaginary is powerfully criticized in Kavenna’s novel. The potential consequences of these new reproductive scenarios for women and the future of the family will be examined in the light of philosophical and psychoanalytic work on the dynamics of a different natality, as well as some of the biomedical and ethical aspects of mothering and ectogenesis.
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      electronic resource
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