'Mastering Your Fertility': The Digitised Reproductive Citizen
Chapter for Negotiating Digital Citizenship: Control, Contest and Culture, edited by Anthony McCosker, Sonja Vivienne and Amelia Johns. To be published by Rowman and Littlefield, London. Forthcoming
14 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2015
Date Written: October 24, 2015
In recent years, a plethora of visualising and other monitoring technologies directed at female fertility and reproduction have emerged. The introduction of new software applications and hardware devices has led to novel ways of portraying and surveilling the fertile female body. Consonant with these technologies is the emergence of a discourse that valorises self-tracking, or the voluntary monitoring of one’s body for health, wellbeing and self-optimisation, often employing digital devices. These discourses and technologies configure the subject of the digitised reproductive citizen, or the woman who uses digital technologies as part of an ethos of devoting a high level of attention to monitoring and managing her reproductive functioning and health. In this chapter, I focus on the numerous digital technologies that have been developed to monitor, visualise and regulate female fertility and pregnancy. I argue that this genre of software is intensifying an already fervid atmosphere of self-surveillance, attempts at management and control and self-responsibility in which female fertility and reproduction are experienced and performed. Further, these devices enrol their users into the broader digital knowledge economy, in which users are configured as digital data assemblages, often for the purposes of commercial profit. The novel digital practices of ‘mastering your fertility’, therefore, bring together the private with the public spheres in new ways.
Keywords: women, reproduction, fertility, digital technologies, digital health, feminist theory, reproductive citizen
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