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 Fertility and Reproduction Seminars: 2017-2019

Reproduction Migrations in the Asia-Pacific

Hilary Term 2019

11:00 am – 12:30 pm, Seminar Room, 64 Banbury Road

Industrialized countries in the West have attracted an ever larger proportion of immigrants since the late 1990s despite their decline in the share of global GDP. In contrast, a number of fast-developing countries in Asia, particularly China and those in South and Southeast Asia, have experienced rapid increases in outward mobility, even as they become new centres of the world economy. Why do the global distributions of migration and production mismatch? This project aims to test the hypothesis that reproduction—activities that maintain and reproduce human life on a daily and generational basis—is becoming a main driving force of migration. By "reproduction migration" (RM) we mean movement of people for the purpose of maintaining and reproducing life, both individual and collective. Such migration is closely bound up with people's strategies and motives at successive life course stages. Migration provides a means by which people seek success in: childbearing and rearing; marriage; education; employment in care-giving at adult ages; and access to caregivers and affordable living standards in late life. Rates of RM are increasing much faster than that of productive labour. Advanced countries attract immigrants because, as global centres, they provide a greater concentration of opportunities for realizing these strategies. This seminar is also a step towards developing a larger hypothesis that RM is becoming a critical source of economic value and will shape the world division of labour in the 21st century. By so doing we hope to nuance the currently dominant narrative that economic power is shifting from the West to the East.


                   Xiang Biao                                                                Mika Toyota                                      Philip Kreager

                   Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology           Rikkyo University                               Director, FRSG

                                                                                                                                                              Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology


Ming dynasty woodcut by Chen Yan (fl 1161—1174) of acu-moxa locations used to treat women for foetal cold and infertility.

(Wellcome Images, CC BY 4.0)

Week 1         Peidong Yang, National Institute of Education, Singapore

14th Jan      China in the Global Reproduction Migration Order: Through the Lens of International Student Mobility

Week 2         Elena Barabantseva, University of Manchester

21st Jan       Intimate Geopolitics: Migration, Marriage, and Citizenship across Chinese Borders

Week 3         Elaine Lynn-Ee Ho, National University of Singapore

28th Jan        Grandparenting Migration: Reproduction, Care Circulations and Care Ethics across Borders

Week 4         Gracia Liu-Farrer,  Waseda University, Tokyo

4th Feb        Investment Migration and Social Reproduction: The Case of Recent Patterns of Migration from China

Week 5         Sean Wang, Max Planck Institute, Berlin

11th Feb      Birth Tourism from China and Taiwan to the United States: Cosmopolitan Strategies and Aspirations

Week 6         Andrea Whittaker, Monash University, Melbourne

18th Feb      Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) and Medical Travel

Week 7         Pei-Chia Lan, National Taiwan University, Taipei

25th Feb      Childrearing as Global Security Strategy: Parenting, Class, and Im/mobility in Taiwan and the United States

Week 8         Francis Collins, University of Waikato, Hamilton

4th Mar       Educational Migration: Youth, Time, and Transformation

Week 9         Brenda Yeoh, National University of Singapore

11th Mar     Global Householding, Care Migration, and the Question of Gender Inequality



Hilary Term 2018

11:00 am – 12:30 pm, Seminar Room, 64 Banbury Road

Week 2         Hamsa Rajan, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, Oxford University

22nd Jan      Caught Between Discourses of Dangerous Femininity and Ethnic Minority Status

                      on the Tibetan Plateau: Domestic Violence in a Double-Bind


Week 3         Irene Capelli, Independent Scholar, Turin

29th Jan       Patriarchal Boundaries into Question: Being an Unmarried Mother in Morocco

Week 4         Mikolaj Szoltysek,  Institute of History, University of Warsaw

5th Feb        The Patriarchy Index: A Measure of Gender and Generational Inequalities of the Past,

                      its Morphology and Historical Cross-Cultural Applications

Week 5         Yves Charbit, Centre Population et Développement, Université Paris Descartes

12th Feb      Remittances from Macro- to Micro-levels: Consequences for Patriarchy and Family Structure

Week 6         Sophie Roche, Heidelberg University

19th Feb       Motherist Discourses: The Use of Patriarchal Narratives after Civil Wars and Natural Disasters

                      in Islamic Societies

Week 7         Cory Rodgers, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford University

26th Feb      Pastoralism and Patriarchy: The Political Economy of the Gerontocratic Ideal in Turkana, Kenya

Week 8         Yuliya Hilevych, University of Cambridge

5th Mar       Reproduction, Relations and Paternalism during Fertility Decline

'Patriarchy’ entered the English language as a familiar term of reference for family and wider political arrangements at least as early as the 17th century. At the family level it indicates very generally the presiding power of a father or his male descendant, largely to the exclusion of women. Many important aspects of generational relations are commonly entailed by patriarchy. Similarly, at the level of wider society or government, the term conveys the idea of men holding power at the expense of women. Evidently all sorts of family and social systems may be roped together under this notion, from ramified patrilineal networks to ordinary nuclear households, and from dynastic autocracies to the proverbial glass ceiling of the modern corporate sphere. The phenomena referred to are important, and controversial, but there is no agreed framework for comparing them.


In organising a seminar on this subject, we hope to invite researchers in a range of disciplines with substantial ethnographic, historical, demographic and other case study evidence which can help to clarify key problems of definition and comparative method on the subject of patriarchy. The seminar will focus on the concept’s primary reference to the domain of family, kin and reproduction. How structures and dynamics of power within family systems may influence social and political power beyond the domestic sphere is then clearly of interest. The seminars are held in Hilary term, on Mondays in the period 15 January to 5 March, 2018. As in several previous seminars, consideration will be given to publication, for example in the FRSG series (see


As a stimulus to discussion, we note the recent publication of a comparative framework or index for the study of patriarchy:


Gruber, Sigfried & Mikołaj Szołtysek (2016). 'The patriarchy index: a comparative study of power relations across historical Europe.' The History of the Family 21:2,133-174, DOI: 10.1080/1081602X.2014.1001769.

Based on historical census and related micro-data, this article reviews historical demographers’ approaches and applies the set of variables comprising the index to the extensive ‘Mosaic’ database on 17th to early 20th-century continental Europe. The figure above indicates the principal variables employed in the index under four dimensions of power relations. As the authors note, there are further dimensions that might be included, although demographic sources  by themselves generally preclude this. The framework provides a structure which we think can be useful for stimulating discussion, for instance: of how patriarchy functions down generations; how it may vary in the ‘levers’ available to exercise control; and the opportunities (and constraints) on contestation and negotiation.

While assessment of this framework is obviously of interest, the seminar provides the opportunity to explore a range of topics that may or may not be illuminated by it. Possible examples include:


  • Implications of patriarchy for access to family and reproductive health care

  • Symbolic constructions of patriarchy, e.g. involving moral, medical and political representations of the body and how they are used in family, ritual and other relationships

  • Significance of patriarchy in the context of current medical interventions (IVF and infertility, pregnancy testing, HIV)

  • Utilisation of patriarchal ideology at the family and community level by overarching political and religious systems (e.g. slavery, dictatorships, socialist and market-based economies)

  • Comparative studies of contrasting patriarchal systems and which bring out elements of continuity and change

  • Relations between behaviour and patriarchal norms (e.g. combined qualitative and quantitative evidence of divergence from norms; customary arrangements for observing, yet getting around, patriarchy)

  • Patriarchy and intersectionality, especially the interactions between generational and gendered power


The interest is thus not in patriarchy as only an idealised system, but what feedback and variations give it the flexibility to survive.



                         Philip Kreager                                                   Siân Pooley

                        Director, FRSG                                               Faculty of History

      Inst. of Social and Cultural Anthropology


Childbearing and the Body Political

Hilary Term 2017

11:00 am – 12:30 pm, Seminar Room, 64 Banbury Road

Convened by Philip Kreager and Elizabeth Rahman (FRSG) 

Week 1         Konstantina Isidoros, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford

16th Jan      Milk-sons: matrifocused patriarchy among the Sahrawi in North Africa

Week 2         Cressida Marcus, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford

23rd Jan       Her Womb, Our Birth: Ethiopian Orthodoxy and the Pursuit of Children


Week 3         Elo Luik, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford

30th Jan       Mothers and workers: The making and unmaking of kinship in Indian surrogacy

Week 4         Lucy van de Wiel, Reproductive Sociology Research Group, University of Cambridge

6th Feb        The Datafication of Reproduction: On Time-lapse Embryo Imaging and the Financialisation of Fertility

Week 5         Elizabeth Rahman, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford

13th Feb      Childbirth and Snakebite in Northwestern Amazonia: the pain of gendered self-affirmation, or a sorcerous fatality

Week 6         Kaveri Qureshi, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford, and the

20th Feb       Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)

                      The Falling, Wasted, or Fused Child: Culpability and Pregnancy Loss in Pakisani Punjab

Week 7         Hannah Gibson, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

27th Feb      My Womb, Her Pregnancy: Making mothers via surrogacy in New Zealand

Week 8         Harish Naraindas, Asia and Europe Cluster, University of Heidelberg, and  

6th Mar       Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

                     Sacralising the Foetus: Notes on Perinatal Bereavement in the Anglo-American World


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