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Global Biopolitics of the IUD

How Science Constructs Contraceptive Users and Women's Bodies

Chikako Takeshita

Publication Year: 2011

The biography of a multifaceted technological object, the IUD, illuminates how political contexts shaped contraceptive development, marketing, use, and users.

Published by: The MIT Press

Series: Inside Technology

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. xi-xiii

Growing up in Japan, I was oblivious to the controversy around the intrauterine device (IUD) that took place in the United States and elsewhere during the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, I had never even heard of IUDs until about a dozen years ago, after I moved to the United States. During an unrelated...

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pp. xv-xvi

I am indebted to many people whose intellectual and personal support made this book possible. I first recognize the Science and Technology Studies Graduate Program at Virginia Tech for fostering the interdisciplinary foundation of this work. Special thanks go to Tim Luke for mentoring me...

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1. Turning the Gaze on Modern Contraceptive Research: An Introduction

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pp. 1-32

It has been a half-century since the contraceptive pill and the modern intrauterine device (IUD) were introduced. These inventions were remarkable because birth control methods before the 1960s had a number of drawbacks. Surgical sterilization prevented pregnancy with high reliability, but...

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2. “Birth Control for a Nation”: The IUD as Technoscientific Biopower

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pp. 33-72

At the first international conference on the intrauterine device sponsored by the Population Council in 1962 in New York City, conference chairman Alan Guttmacher articulated the need for a new kind of contraceptive for what he referred to as the “masses”: “The reason the restraint of population...

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3. From the “Masses” to the “Moms”: Governing Contraceptive Risks

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pp. 73-104

I was looking forward to getting an IUD when I phoned the doctor at a local Planned Parenthood office in April 2002. So I was momentarily taken aback by the way she responded to my request for an IUD insertion. She immediately asked me whether I was married, and when I said no, she...

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4. “IUDs Are Not Abortifacients”: The Biopolitics of Contraceptive Mechanisms

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pp. 105-136

The characterization of the IUD as an abortifacient is a rhetorical move that has been advanced by antiabortion movement leaders and religiously inclined physicians. Discrediting contraceptive methods has been integral to the conservative political agenda in the United States, which gained...

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5. “Keep Life Simple”: Body/Technology Relationships in Racialized Global Contexts

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pp. 137-161

After the birth of my second child in 2005, I had my second IUD inserted. This time it was a Mirena, which releases a synthetic progestin, levonorgestrel, from an intrauterine capsule and prevents pregnancy for five years without replacement. The device is one of the most effective contraceptive...

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6. Diffracting the Technoscientific Body: A Conclusion

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pp. 163-169

Throughout this book, I have traced the making of a politically versatile technology—a device readily appropriated by diverse social agendas ranging from population control to the antiabortion movement. The optical metaphor of diffraction is the methodological tool I used to tease out the...


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pp. 171-199


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pp. 201-220


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pp. 221-238

E-ISBN-13: 9780262298452
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262016582

Page Count: 254
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Inside Technology