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Changing (In)Fertilities



My main research interests are the ethical dilemmas and questions provoked by reproduction and assisted reproductive technologies and the interconnections between concerns about the environment and reproduction. I am particularly concerned with the ways in which ideas of nature and naturalness are implicated in morality and ethics, as well as the importance of gender, class, race and sexuality in structuring parenting and reproduction. 

As a research associate in ReproSoc, I have worked on a research project on representations of IVF in the British media, focusing particularly on newspapers and TV documentaries covering the birth of the first 'test-tube baby', Louise Brown. I have also been developing the Reproducing the Environment collaborative project with Janelle Lamoreaux and carried out pilot ethnographic fieldwork investigating seed saving amongst gardeners in southern England.

My book, Making a Good Life, was published in 2016 by Princeton University Press. It looks at middle class British people's ideas about the ethics of reproduction and assisted reproductive technologies. In the book, I trace the connections between how people think about the ethics of reproduction and ethics in their everyday lives, in a context of anxieties about environmental crisis and destruction of the natural world, intense public scrutiny of parenting and reproduction and the rise of biotechnology. 

I am the work package coordinator for the (In)Fertile Environments strand of the Wellcome Trust-funded Changing (In)Fertilities Project. As part of this project I will develop my research in the area of reproduction and the environment, as well as working with colleagues to assess the state of the field in this area. 

I chair an interdisciplinary reading group on reproduction, based in London. Please get in touch with me if you would be interested in joining. I am also the editor of the What's Out There reviews strand in Reproductive BioMedicine and Society Online


Key publications: 

In press. ‘Looking into the Test-Tube: The Birth of IVF on British Television’, in special issue of Medical History on Reproductive Politics in France and Britain, eds. Caroline Rusterholz and Jesse Olszynko-Gryn.

2018. '"Now She's Just an Ordinary Baby": The Birth of IVF in the British Press'. Sociology. Published Online First 22ndFebruary 2018.

2018. Dow, Katharine and Victoria Boydell (eds.). Nature and Ethics Across Geographical, Rhetorical and Human Borders. London: Routledge.

2017. ‘“The Men who Made the Breakthrough”: How the British press represented Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards in 1978’. Reproductive Biomedicine and Society Online 4: 59-67.

2017. 'Conceptive Journeys’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23(3): 623-625. [Review of Cosmopolitan Conceptions by Marcia Inhorn and Problems of Conception by Marit Melhuus]

2016. Editorial: What's Out ThereReproductive Biomedicine and Society Online 3: 24-25.

2016. ‘What Gets Left Behind for Future Generations? Reproduction and the Environment in Spey Bay, Scotland’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute22(3): 653-669

2016. Making a Good Life: An Ethnography of Nature, Ethics and Reproduction. Princeton University Press. 

2016. ‘Seeing with Dolphins: Reflections on the Salience of Cetaceans’. In Thinking about Animals in the Age of the Anthropocene: Human-animal relations in the era of humankind, eds. Morten Tønnessen, Silver Rattasepp and Kristin Armstrong Oma. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books

2015. Review of Moral Laboratories, Cheryl Mattingly (2014). Medicine Anthropology Theory. View here.

2015. Introduction: Nature and Ethics across Geographical, Rhetorical and Human Borders. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology. View online here

2015. 'A Nine-Month Head-Start': The Maternal Bond and Surrogacy. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology. View online here

2013. 'Building a Stable Environment in Scotland: Planning Parenthood in a Time of Ecological Crisis', in Parenting in Global Perspective: Comparative Studies in Kinship, Self and Politics, eds. Faircloth, C, Hoffman, D. & L. Layne. Oxford: Routledge

2012. '"You're Gonna Get what you Pay for": Gay Parents and Transnational Surrogacy', Anthropology News April 2012

2012. 'The Surrogate Body and the Body Politic'. Review of Teman, E. (2010) Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self. Science as Culture February 2012

ReproSoc, Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge
Work Package 4: (In)Fertile Environments
 Katie  Dow
Not available for consultancy