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‘Fight Abortion, Not Women’: Russian Reproductive Politics and the Search for a Liberal Biopolitics

October 17, 2017 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

An increasingly vibrant Russian movement has developed over the last two decades to delegitimize, restrict, and criminalize abortion, even as rates of pregnancy termination decreased 5.5 times from 1989 to 2015. Contraceptive use is replacing abortion for routine fertility control, but conservatives decry abortion as a sin, and cast family planning services as a threat to national security. Political efforts to increase births have become a central tactic for nationalist revival and state legitimacy. 

Dr. Michele Rivkin-Fish (Anthropology, UNC) will trace the ways supporters of family planning services and legal abortion have shifted their strategies over time to gain and retain legitimacy for their cause. Drawing on a range of sources, from medical publications to social media campaigns, the presentation addresses the creative, if sometimes contradictory, ways advocates have combined liberal political ideals regarding individual autonomy with claims regarding relational forms of obligation and the value of care. It also explores how Russian claims for women’s reproductive interests both respond to the specific dilemmas of Soviet history and offer intriguing insights for global feminist activists.

Lunch and Learn is an interactive lecture series that provides CSEEES faculty affiliates the opportunity to showcase their current research. The lectures are open to all interested faculty, students, staff, and community members. Lunch is provided per timely RSVP. Please click here. 

Michele Rivkin-Fish is Associate Professor in the UNC Department of Anthropology. Her research examines health and gender in Russia as arenas for understanding the broader social and political changes in that country since the end of state socialism. She has published on topics ranging from Russian reproductive and demographic politics, to doctor-patient relations, collective memory, and notions of reparative justice in the aftermath of the Soviet Union. 


October 17, 2017
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
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