Re-Producing the Future Human: Dignity, Eugenics, and Governing Reproductive Technology in Neoliberal Germany
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CitationLoveland, Kristen. 2017. Re-Producing the Future Human: Dignity, Eugenics, and Governing Reproductive Technology in Neoliberal Germany. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractOver the course of the 1980s and the 1990s, West Germany and then Germany developed the most restrictive law in the advanced industrialized world to regulate reproductive and genetic technologies. Under the Embryo Protection Act of 1990. the government criminalized egg and embryo donations, sex selection, alterations to the human germ line, and any use of reproductive technologies leading to "divided motherhood." In the early 2000s, after intense public controversy, the German parliament decided to maintain a ban on preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). My dissertation asks why Germans were so concerned about these technologies. To the extent that this question has been posed, scholars have mainly attributed German anxieties to the specter of the Nazi past. But although the Nazi past certainly mattered, this dissertation argues that Germans worried as much if not more about the pathologies of liberalism, especially the development of neoliberalism from the 1970s onward.
Critiques of reproduction were therefore a locus for broad political and economic critiques in late-twentieth-century Germany. This dissertation explicates those critiques by tracing the changing meanings of two concepts in particular, human dignity and eugenics. These concepts structured debates on reproduction but were also constituted by them. Analyzing the concepts of human dignity and eugenics shows that in the 1980s German critics feared the technologization of reproduction, through which scientists and doctors would pursue a perfectionist eugenics. In so doing, such actors would supersede God's role in creation and destroy the Christian subject, in particular one's ability to grow out of imperfection toward a closer union with God. By the end of the century, critics grew suspicious of individual decisionmaking. They came to fear the marketization of reproduction - namely that the logic of the market dictated the everyday reproductive decisionmaking of individual parents. Critics now reconceptualized both dignity and eugenics. They invoked dignity in a Kantian more than Christian register, and for the first time they spoke of eugenics as inherently unacceptable, whether orchestrated from above or arising from individual choices below.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42061472
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