Political Science | Politics of Gender and Sexuality: Comparative Politics of Reproductive Health
Y353 | 31816 | Sissenich


Y353 Politics of Gender and Sexuality:
The Comparative Politics of Reproductive Health
In political science, the body tends to be considered a private
matter, except for contentious issues such as abortion and birth
control, which serve as windows onto the politics of religion. Beyond
that, the embodiment and performance of reproduction are considered
personal and thus apolitical.  This course aims to challenge our
categories of “public” and “private,” of “political” and “personal,”
by investigating a range of issues around reproduction and health and
examining how they are handled by the state, or rather, by a variety
of different governments and political actors. Two fundamental puzzles
will motivate our inquiry: First, what is political about
reproduction? Second, why do countries and societies solve similar
policy challenges in sometimes radically different ways? Topics such
as pregnancy and childbirth, breastfeeding, assisted reproductive
technologies, marriage, population control, pronatalism, adoption, and
sex for money will offer empirical case studies that help us explore
the governance of bodies and the economics of reproduction. Readings
will be drawn from the history of science and medicine, medical
anthropology, law, comparative public policy, gender theory, and
normative political theory. While the bulk of the literature focuses
on North America, we will deliberately engage comparisons with other
advanced industrialized countries in Europe and beyond.

Course requirements:
Students will be responsible for reading 60-80 pages of challenging
social science research for each session; attending regularly;
participating actively in class; completing three multiple choice
exams; keeping up with current news on our topic; and producing a
policy brief of ca. 1800-2200 words in length.