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The Belly Mommy and the Fetus Sitter

Time: 4:00 pm
Location: 909 Renaissance Park
Sponsored By: WGSS, Human Services, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, the Northeastern Humanities Center, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, CSSH
Contact: wgss@neu.edu

The Belly Mommy and the Fetus Sitter:
The Reproductive Marketplace and Unconventional Family Creation

Joshua Gamson
Stanford Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences

Thursday, March 17, 2016
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
909 Renaissance Park
Reception to follow

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While much academic work has celebrated the transformation and diversification of family forms, when it comes to how those families are made many scholars are much less celebratory. In this talk, I recount the stories of my own family creation—which involved the “outsourcing” of key processes—in relation to concerns about the encroachment of market logic into aspects of intimate life that had previously been insulated from commercial forces, and about the various social inequalities assisted reproduction relies on and reinforces. Through these stories, I point to novel forms of intimacy opened up by contemporary reproductive medicine, especially for those for whom the choice to parent remains institutionally and socially controversial, as well as the troubling structural inequalities that underwrite much alternative family creation. Finally, in telling my own family origin stories, I consider the politics and ethics of storytelling.


Joshua Gamson is Professor of Sociology at the University of San Francisco, where he moved in 2002 after nine years on the Yale University faculty.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. His most recent book is Modern Families: Stories of Extraordinary Journeys to Kinship (New York University, 2015). He is also the author of Claims to Fame: Celebrity in Contemporary America (California, 1994); Freaks Talk Back: Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity (Chicago, 1998), winner of the Kovacs Book Award from the Speech Communication Association and the American Sociological Association Culture Section Book Award; and The Fabulous Sylvester: The Legend, The Music, The Seventies in San Francisco (Henry Holt/Picador, 2005), winner of the Stonewall Book Award and finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. He has also written for magazines such as The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, The New Yorker, and The American Prospect, and published numerous scholarly articles on social movements, sexualities, and popular culture. In 2009, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 2015-16 he was awarded a Fellowship at the Stanford Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences.

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