Today, technological developments in relation to prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care are changing how the deaths of fetuses and infants take place and how their dead bodies are managed and cared for until their disposal or burial. An example is the implementation of prenatal screening, which became a nationwide offer to all pregnant Danish women in 2004. Since then, an increasing number of women have obtained abortions due to a diagnosis of life-threatening conditions or disabilities. These late-term abortions are today, in Denmark, often conceived as infant deaths. As much as technologies, such as assisted reproductive technologies, are remaking life, technologies such as abortion, are remaking death. However, how different technologies influence the remaking of death is an understudied field.
The research program, Technologies of Death and Dying at the Beginning of Life, draws on Stine W. Adrian’s (PI) extensive techno-anthropological research experiences studying the technologies of life. In Techologies of Death and Dying at the Beginning of Life, this agenda is turned around, now focusing on technologies of death by asking: How does technology remake death and dying at the beginning of life?
Combining ethnographic and legal methods, we will research critical cases of death at the beginning of life including late-term abortions and the deaths of infants suffering from severe congenital defects. In Technologies of Death and Dying at the Beginning of Life, we perceive technologies as socio-technical, meaning that they are always entangled with culture and society. By studying technologies remaking death, we also study how norms regarding a life worth living, and affects, such as grieving, are part of the technological practices unfolding and changing at the intersection of legal regulation, medical practices, and the everyday lives of women and men having experienced the death of a fetus or an infant.
The project aims to make a series of contributions. It will set a new research agenda contributing to reproductive and death studies with new humanities perspectives. It aims to develop ethnographically sensitive reconceptualizations of the emergence, management, and the experience of living with death and dying at the beginning of life when technologies are used. This contribution will draw on a combination of agential realism, Haraway's reconfiguration of technologies, and theories focusing on the governing of life and death conceptualized as bio- politics or necropolitics. Finally, by communicating our findings to health practitioners, we aim to make a difference for those experiencing the loss of an infant or the termination of a pregnancy. We will also improve reproductive rights by bringing transparency to how applications on late-term abortions are evaluated by abortion councils and how decisions regarding abortion unfold in practice. Moreover, we aim to contribute to public discussions in the media by challenging the taboos and stigmatization regarding infant death and late abortion.
The management board:
- Associate professor in Techno-Anthropology, Aalborg University, Stine Willum Adrian
- Professor WSR in Law, Copenhagen University, Janne Rothmar Herrmann
The international advisory board
- Visiting Professor ReproSoc, Cambridge University, Linda Layne
- Professor in Sociology, National Taiwan University, Chia-Ling Wu
- Professor in Sociology, Goethe University Frankfurt Am Main, Thomas Lemke
- Professor Emerita, Gender Studies, Linköping University, Nina Lykke
- Professor WSR in Cultural Studies, Charlotte Kroløkke
- Professor WSR in Anthropology, Copenhagen University, Ayo Wahlberg
- Shouldering death: Moral tensions, ambiguity, and the unintended ramifications of state‐sanctioned second‐trimester selective abortion in Denmark. Heinsen, L. L. ,2022. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1111/maq.12717
- Barriers to abortion in the autonomy-based Danish legal model. Herrmann, J.R. & Petersen, A.F., European Journal of Health Law, 29. sept. 2021, p. 1-16 (BFI 2)
- Accessing late term abortion following sexual assault – Looking inside the Danish legal black box, Petersen, A.F., Nordic Journal of Human Rights, 2022
- Stitching Stories of Broken Hearts: Living Response-ably with the Technologies of Death and Dying at the Beginning of Life
Adrian, S. W., 2020, (Accepteret/In press) I : Australian Feminist Studies.
Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift › Tidsskriftartikel › Forskning › peer review
- Vi Har Sortert Hele Tiden: Danmark løftes ofte frem som skrekkscenarioet av et sorteringssamfunn. Men sortering er ikke nytt i Norge heller.
Adrian, S. W., 3 jun. 2020, I : Vårt Land.
Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift › Bidrag til avis - Kronik › Formidling
- Abortsamrådenes hemmelige liv: Praksisanalyse af en Black Box forvaltning.
Petersen, A.F. & Herrmann, J.R., Ugeskrift for Retsvæsen, U2021B.190.