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The Material GeneGender, Race, and Heredity after the Human Genome Project$
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Kelly E. Happe

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814790670

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814790670.001.0001

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Genomics and the Reproductive Body

Genomics and the Reproductive Body

(p.61) 3 Genomics and the Reproductive Body
The Material Gene

Kelly E. Happe

NYU Press

This chapter locates and describes an implicit reproductive politics in ovarian cancer genomics research. Genomics revives an ideology of femininity that reduces ovaries to their reproductive function. But it does so not in spite of feminist gains, but because of them. The implicit assumption in genomics discourse is that to deny life-saving operations is to necessarily embrace an identity rooted in the normatively gendered body. Paradoxically, the conditions for the organs' removal are structured by traditional ideas of reproduction and motherhood: ovaries can be conserved, but only for a time, and only to answer to the desires of young motherhood. Moreover, in contrast to those of white women, black women's ovaries are treated very differently—prompting a discursive development that must be read against the backdrop of a long-standing discourse in the United States linking black women, reproduction, and poverty.

Keywords:   reproductive politics, ovarian cancer genomics research, femininity, reproductive body, black women

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