Work in Progress
Bodies and Borders: Mapping Reproductive Injustice in Israel/Palestine
Bodies and Borders offers a critical account of the politics and intimate geographies of race, citizenship, and gender that shape Palestinian women’s reproduction across Israel and Palestine. Based on more than two years of ethnographic research and 60 in-depths interviews with Israeli medical staff and Palestinian women undergoing fertility treatment in Israeli hospitals, this book examines how the Israeli fertility economy works internally, how its operations conjoin with Israeli settler politics, and how Palestinian women undergoing fertility treatment experience this medical context and its wider political implications. Bodies and Borders intervenes in scholarship that analyzes Palestinian women’s (reproductive) rights through liberal frameworks of inclusion and access. Instead, it explores how demographic anxieties - enacted by Israeli authorities, policies, and medical staff - shape Palestinian women’s reproductive practices and pregnancy outcomes, and their access to the resources needed to become a parent and raise children in a safe and healthy environment more broadly. It argues that the provision of health services and reproductive technologies alone is not enough to guarantee reproductive justice in a settler colonial context.
Through its multi-disciplinary theoretical approach, drawing from Black Feminist Theory, STS, and Border Studies, Bodies and Borders charts reproductive justice in a transnational context. The experiences of Palestinian women in Israeli fertility clinics tell at once a local and a global story. They illustrate how the regulation of reproduction across a variety of scales – from the occupation, military environments, and urban segregation, to hospitals, bodies, and affect – unfolds in the encounter of Palestinian bodies and the borders set up to protect the Israeli state. At the same time, Palestinian women’s experiences are part of the global history of eugenics, population politics, and birth control, which continues to posit Black, non-white, Indigenous, and poor bodies as a problem to be managed and a site to assert state-power. And finally, while this project is about reproductive justice through the lens of Israel/Palestine and vice versa, Bodies and Borders also incorporates reproductive justice as an approach to research methodology in a world structured by white supremacy. Among the methodological contributions this book makes, is offering a reflexive account to think about how white innocence is reproduced in the field, and how to trace and honor ethnographic limits in studies that center marginalized experiences to reveal structural inequalities.