Organized Panel Session
This panel explores how the “problems” of low fertility and infertility are understood and enacted at both the social and individual levels in three advanced capitalist countries, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. Drawing on the work of scholars in the interstices of women’s studies, cultural anthropology, medical sociology, and Science and Technology Studies, the papers address how the states, markets, and individuals engage in refashioning practices and meanings of reproduction within, and oftentimes, across the country lines. Specifically, the papers in this panel provide detailed analyses of cultural, medical, and legal responses to the fast-growing market of assisted reproduction in Taiwan and South Korea, fortuitous cooperation between the market and the state in arranging postpartum care for Korean mothers, and state policies aimed at encouraging childbirth and the politics of the mothers’ childrearing support networks under the context of very low birth rates in Japan. Acknowledging childbirth and social reproduction as the thorniest problem in those countries, the panelists interrogate moral and practical reasonings undergirding distinctive changes and consequences in terms of reproductive experiences. By doing so, the proposed session collectively joins the scholarly discussions of the commodification of human body parts, the privatization of healthcare, the biopolitics of reproduction, ethno-nationalism, and the paternalist nation-state in global capitalism. Simultaneously, and by necessity, these papers reflect on the very fundamental questions about ethics and morality of human reproduction and the social: namely, what human life is all about and what human society should be like.