Autonomy, Cyborgs, and Sterilization

39 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 31 Mar 2010

See all articles by Jennifer Denbow

Jennifer Denbow

University of California, Berkeley


In this paper I consider the subversive political possibilities of the increasingly common practice of voluntary sterilization through the framework of Donna Haraway's cyborg theory. The paper places the practice in the historical context of forced sterilization and explores the legal and medical dimensions of contemporary voluntary sterilization. I argue that the practice has the potential to disrupt dominant understandings of women as naturally maternal. I also consider whether and to what extent voluntary sterilization as a subversive practice might lead to increased reproductive autonomy. This paper is part of a larger project that develops an account of autonomy that takes the self of autonomy as produced and sees potential for subversive and disruptive practices to increase autonomy.

Keywords: cyborg theory, autonomy, Haraway, sterilization, reproduction

Suggested Citation

Denbow, Jennifer, Autonomy, Cyborgs, and Sterilization. Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper , Available at SSRN:

Jennifer Denbow (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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