Amrita Pande
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Birth projects, selective reproduction and neoliberal eugenics
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In his seminal work of 2018, Fatal Misconception, Mathew Connelly surmises that the global campaign for population control is a neo-colonial attempt to control the world. What are these neo-colonial projects that attempt to control the world? What shape do these projects take in an era where population control has become a taboo phrase in policy making? This chapter draws on the concept of birth projects to demonstrate that as fertility rates decline worldwide, the fervour to control birthing bodies, especially of poor and Black women in the global south, does not dissipate. The twentieth-century top-down population control projects, embedded in state propaganda and policies, were easily identifiable because of their starkness and brutality. What we have today are birth projects that are diffuse and couched in the frame of individual choice, which absolve the state of its responsibility. These neo-eugenic birth projects are based on a subtle form of eugenics that depoliticises issues and justifies systemic inequalities by couching them in the frame of choice. The chapter compares the history and presence of population control policies in South Africa and India to two other modes of delimiting the fertility of a certain demography – obstetric violence and repro-genetic technologies – to argue that forced contraceptive, limiting (legal) access to contraceptive, exposing women to violence during pregnancy and birthing, and the inherent stratifications of new repro-genetic technologies, although seemingly contrasting, belong to the same neo-eugenic continuum.

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Birth controlled

Selective reproduction and neoliberal eugenics in South Africa and India



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