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Embodied Ecologies: An Ethnographic Study of Reproductive Toxicity, Infertility, Endometriosis and Delayed Childbearing

Project description

Dealing with infertility within the context of an ecology of the body

Declining birth rates over the last decades have brought Europe into the midst of a demographic crisis. So far, infertility has been treated as a public health issue with social implications. The EU-funded EndoReproTox project will reframe the study of infertility by considering reproductive health as an environmental issue. Aiming at having a positive impact on health policy, public awareness and anthropological theory, EndoReproTox will approach health as an ‘embodied ecology’ instead of a product of individual choices and behaviours. The project will attempt to trace the links between exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), infertility and endometriosis and will focus on understandings of causality in people’s decisions about fertility and childbearing.


"This ethnographic project reframes the study of infertility by considering reproductive health as an environmental issue. It is specifically interested in the relationship between exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), infertility, and endometriosis, a common hormonal disorder that disrupts the female menstrual cycle and is strongly correlated with both infertility and EDCs. How are these links understood in expert and public contexts, and how do they factor into the way people make decisions about fertility and childbearing? By focusing on understandings of causality instead of treatments/technologies, and by conceptualizing health as an ""embodied ecology"" instead of a product of individual choices and behaviors, this project has implications for health policy and public awareness as well as anthropological theory. Working with Diana Marre at the AFIN Research Group at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the pre-eminent site for the interdisciplinary social study of reproduction, will provide me with the support and training to conduct this innovative research and reach professional maturity. Over twenty months of fieldwork consisting of interviews and participant observation in Barcelona, Europe's leading site for infertility treatments, with short fieldwork trips to California for an important comparative perspective, this project connects my prior experience researching reproductive decisions in California with demographic and health challenges affecting Europe and Western societies more broadly. Training will focus on proliferating my methodological skills and enhancing my ability to communicate across sectors and to the public, which will be enabled by AFIN's inter-sectoral connections with medical centers and its unique Center devoted to public outreach. Dissemination will consist primarily of three peer-reviewed articles, six conference presentations, two public talks, and two public newsletters."



Net EU contribution
€ 160 932,48
Edif a campus de la uab bellaterra cerdanyola v
08193 Cerdanyola del valles

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Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00