Exposed Biologies and the Banking of Reproductive Vitality in China
Professor of Anthropology Ayo Wahlberg has recently contributed to the journal Science, Technology, and Society with the article 'Exposed Biologies and the Banking of Reproductive Vitality in China.'
The looming figures of smog-choked cities, cancer villages and contaminated food have become iconic of a modernizing China: the tragic, perhaps unavoidable, side effects of a voracious economy. In the article, Ayo Wahlberg examines how the sperm bank—jingzi ku—in China has emerged quite literally as a sanctuary of vitality amidst concerns around food safety, air and water pollution, rising infertility, and declining population quality. As a twist on Margaret Lock’s concept of ‘local biologies’, he argues that ‘exposed biologies’ have become a matter of concern in China in ways that have corroborated a place for hi-tech sperm banks within China’s restrictive reproductive complex. Exposed biologies are a side effect of modernization processes, as industrially manufactured chemicals are increasingly held culpable for a range of pathologies, from cancers to metabolic diseases, disorders of sex development, and infertility. Amidst concerns that pollution and modern lifestyles are deteriorating sperm quality in China, the sperm bank stands out as a repository of screened, purified, and quality-controlled vitality, and as such sperm banking can be seen as a form of reproductive insurance, not only for individuals but also for the nation.
Ayo Wahlberg, Exposed Biologies and the Banking of Reproductive Vitality in China, Science, Technology, and Society, Volume 23, Issue 2, April 2018.