The Politics of Reproduction Presents: Professor Mytheli Sreenivas, "Reproductive Politics and the Making of Modern India"

Professor of History and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the Ohio State University

Professor Sreenivas's book: Reproductive Politics and the Making of Modern India, asks how biological reproduction—as a process of reproducing human life—became central to reproducing India as a modern nation-state.  While “reproductive politics” in India is often assumed to begin with population control in the 1960s, my research takes a longer historical perspective to show that reproduction was first called into public question in response to colonial-era crises, and was central to feminist, nationalist, and modernizing projects from the late nineteenth century onward.  To tell this story, I investigate debates commonly understood to be part of reproductive politics, including about about marriage, family, and contraception. However, my research reveals that concerns about reproduction were also woven through a much wider range of political questions—about poverty and crises of subsistence, about migration and claims of national sovereignty, and about normative heterosexuality and drives for economic development.