Exploring the Multiplicity of Embodied Agency in Colombian Assisted Reproduction

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Body and Society


Analyses of assisted reproductive technologies have demonstrated how objectification and agency can coexist in infertility centres. How objectification creates opportunities for empowerment, however, has not yet been explored. In analysing women’s narratives of assisted conception in Colombian infertility clinics, I demonstrate the complexity in women’s embodied experiences of various objectifying stages of assisted conception and argue that their experiences produced multiple forms of embodied agency. Women used diagnostic procedures to learn about their bodies and infertility complications, which augmented their authority over their bodies and treatment. They drew upon their embodied knowledge to reduce treatment anxieties, while sensations such as pain were made purposeful, and hence meaningful, as women strove to reconfigure the significance of the embodied sensations of conception in a context of medicalized reproduction. In these narratives, we see that lived bodies are productive agents of social change, generating meanings and working to reshape dominant social understandings.

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