Baby's First Picture: Ultrasound and the Politics of Fetal Subjects

Baby's First Picture: Ultrasound and the Politics of Fetal Subjects

2001 | 258 Pages | ISBN: 0802048102 | PDF | 14 MB

Appearing through developments in medicine, in volatile debates over abortion rights, in popular guides to pregnancy, and in advertisements for cars and long-distance telephone plans, the fetus has become an increasingly familiar part of our social landscape in Canada. Lisa Mitchell provides a critical anthropological perspective on the fetal subject, particularly as it emerges through the practice of ultrasound imaging.'Seeing the baby,' is now a routine and expected part of pregnancy and prenatal care in Canada. Conventionally understood as a neutral and passive technology, ultrasound appears to be a 'window' through which to observe fetal sex, age, size, physical normality, and behaviour. However, Mitchell argues, what is seen through ultrasound is neither self-evident nor natural, but historically and culturally contingent and subject to a wide range of interpretation.Drawing upon fieldwork over the past ten years, the author includes observations at ultrasound clinics, interviews with pregnant women and their partners, and a discussion on how ultrasound's echoes become meaningful as 'baby's first picture' - a snapshot of the fetus in utero.Throughout, Mitchell probes our acceptance of this technology, our willingness to take fetal imaging for granted, and illuminates the links between this technologically mediated 'fetal reality' and the politics of gender and reproduction in Canada.

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