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Reproductive governance in Latin America

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This paper develops the concept of reproductive governance as an analytic tool for tracing the shifting political rationalities of population and reproduction. As advanced here, the concept of reproductive governance refers to the mechanisms through which different historical configurations of actors – such as state, religious, and international financial institutions, NGOs, and social movements – use legislative controls, economic inducements, moral injunctions, direct coercion, and ethical incitements to produce, monitor, and control reproductive behaviours and population practices. Examples are drawn from Latin America, where reproductive governance is undergoing a dramatic transformation as public policy conversations are coalescing around new moral regimes and rights-based actors through debates about abortion, emergency contraception, sterilisation, migration, and assisted reproductive technologies. Reproductive discourses are increasingly framed through morality and contestations over ‘rights’, where rights-bearing citizens are pitted against each other in claiming reproductive, sexual, indigenous, and natural rights, as well as the ‘right to life’ of the unborn. The concept of reproductive governance can be applied to other settings in order to understand shifting political rationalities within the domain of reproduction.
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Keywords: Latin America; governance; human rights; neoliberalism; reproduction

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology and Anthropology,Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley,MA, USA 2: Department of Anthropology,University of Michigan, Ann Arbor,MI, USA

Publication date: 2012-08-01

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