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Changing (In)Fertilities


Extractive (In)Fertilities - Julieta Chaparro-Buitrago

This work package contributes to Changing (In)Fertilities’ overall goal of transforming the conversation about fertility and infertility by looking at the entanglements of human, animal, and soil fertility from a reproductive justice perspective. Reproductive justice considers housing and the environment crucial elements in people's reproductive lives, as they impact access to schools, food, transportation, and the presence or absence of environmental risks (Ross and Solinger 2017). 

Extractive fertilities, however, move the discussion in reproductive justice away from the anthropocentric focus of raising children in healthy environments by exploring preoccupations around the land, human, and animal fertility. This work package expands on Donna Haraway’s (2019: 79) call for a multi-species reproductive justice, a 'multispecies fabric with a key human thread" (79), to explore how human reproduction is part of a web of interconnections with other beings. 

The case study for this project is a peasant community in the Northern department of Cajamarca, Peru that houses the largest gold mine in Latin America. In everyday conversations in Cajamarca, concerns about environmental degradation were not simply addressed through children's wellbeing and human reproduction. Instead, people bring together humans, animals, land, and minerals when describing the impacts of industrial mining. I am interested in exploring the meanings surrounding water and how peasant communities understand the entanglements of these different actors for thinking about the future and the reproduction of life. 

This project illuminates the importance of reproduction in discussions on extractivism as it threatens “the most fundamental characteristic of life, that is the need to reproduce itself” (Murphy, 2017: 52). Peasant communities use fertility/reproductive tropes because extractivism re-organizes the fundamental organization of life and brings life and death close together. Although extractivism is absent in the scholarship of reproduction, I suggest that it provides an interesting angle to expand its scope beyond human reproduction. Building on the work of Arturo Escobar (2020), I will develop a framework I tentatively call relational fertilities/reproduction.