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Economies of Reproduction

Humboldt-Universität scholars contribute significantly to a DFG approved interdisciplinary network

During the last 250 years, understandings of procreation, reproduction and birth as well as those of descent, heritage and kinship have been transformed considerably. Contemporary reproductive biology and medicine now once more point to a situation of radical change. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) has now approved the research network “Economies of Reproduction. Interdisciplinary Research on the Past and Present of Human Reproduction 1750-2010”. Humboldt-Universität scholars who contributed greatly to the network’s approval as wells as the other network members will relate the historical development of concepts of procreation and reproduction to their specific political, historical and social contexts for the coming three years.

Today’s developments are characterized by ever closer entanglements between the laboratory and the clinic, pharmaceutical business and stock markets. Stem cells, embryos and gametes not only constitute ethically contested research objects; they also figure centrally within different moral, biological, social and commercial economies. The network „Economies of Reproduction“ will pursue research on the historical and actual dimensions of human reproduction in the field of life sciences (medicine and biology) and their relationship to different but overlapping economies. 15 researchers from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the UK and the United States will put their disciplinary backgrounds in the history of medicine and science, in social sciences, anthropology, health sciences and philosophy in dialog with each other. The joint intellectual aim of the network is to relate the historical development of concepts of procreation and reproduction to their specific political, historical and social contexts. The interdisciplinary dialog will allow to identify research desiderata and explore possible lines of research for a longue-durée-history of human reproduction and its relations with economies.

In the network, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin is represented by three of its scientists: Dr. Bettina Bock v. Wülfingen who researches on “On the epistemology of the relation between instruments and model in the field of reproductive genetics during the 20th century“, Dr. Michi Knecht who works within the framework of the network on a comparative ethnography on the (re)production of values in sperm banks in Germany, Denmark and the US called „Vital Economies“ as well as their colleague Sven Bergmann who deals with “Transnational Fertility Tourism”.

Concept and coordination: Florence Vienne (Braunschweig/Spokesperson), Bettina Bock v. Wülfingen (Berlin), Christina Brandt (Berlin/Braunschweig), Axel C. Hüntelmann (Bielefeld), Michi Knecht (Berlin)

Network members:
Sven Bergmann (Berlin), Antje Kampf (Mainz), Martina Schlünder (Gießen), Bettina Wahrig (TU Braunschweig), Christine Loytved (Osnabrück), Caroline Arni (Basel), Aditya Bharadwaj (Edinburgh), Kimberly Leighton (Washington D.C.), Susanne Lettow (Wien), Shahanah Schmid (London)

Mirja Behrendt
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Press Spokeswoman of the President
Tel. 030 2093-2090