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date: 22 May 2018

Abstract and Keywords

In Western societies, practices and notions of childbearing and personhood center around a newfangled subject that in former times and in other cultures was unknown: the fetus. Here, pregnancy denotes an individual with interests, rights, and needs, residing in a woman’s interior. This article discusses the feminist criticism and theories on pregnancy and (fetal) personhood along three lines. First, sociologists and anthropologists have critically analyzed the politics and practices that produce the fetal subject and thereby shed new light on the contemporary making of “human life,” individuality, and personhood as well as on their social impact. Second, historians and anthropologists have given voice to pregnant women from other periods of history and non-Western cultures and carved out the historical and cultural uniqueness of the modern fetus. Third, philosophers have suggested feminist theories of personhood that do not reiterate individualism and biologism but hinge on relationality, contextuality, and experience.

Keywords: biology, birth, fetus, fetal subject, motherhood, personhood, pregnancy, relationality

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