“Human Bodies, Antibodies and Other Bodies”, Durham University, 24/04/18

Anne-Sophie Giraud et Anaïs Martin participeront à la postgraduate conference de l’université de Durham le 24 avril 2018. La conférence portera sur le corps comme objet d’étude anthropologique au sens large : les contributions pourront porter sur les corps humains ou non-humains, vivants ou morts, vus sous l’angle médical, technologique ou encore religieux ou artistique. Anne-Sophie Giraud proposera une communication tirée de sa thèse sur la mort périnatale et Anaïs Martin interviendra sur la notion de ressemblance dans le discours et l’expérience des personnes conçues par don de sperme en France.

Anne-Sophie Giraud : Between “anatomical waste” and “child”: the reconfiguration of the liminal status of the unborn in France.

Résumé. My paper will analyse the transformation of institutional and private practices around the dead foetus in France since the 1980-1990s, observed during an ethnographic study conducted between 2010 and 2015. These practices resist the association of dead foetus with “anatomic waste” and tend to “personify” it by the possibility to bury and name it. However, and as a contradiction, these practices coexist with the authorization of the late termination of pregnancy.

Through the specific study of the practices around the dead body of the foetus, swaying constantly between “anatomic waste” to “child”, between object and person without being assimilated to one or the other, I will show that the coexistence of these opposites is allowed by the liminality of the unborn’s status. Even if the French law does not recognize intermediary categories, the French State endows the unborn of a liminal status, strictly organized as situations of instituted choices granted to intended parents. By delegating to them the possibility, to some extent, to consider the dead foetus as a “quasi-infant” or, on the contrary, as a “failed reproduction” or “anatomical waste”, the State organizes both the destruction and the protection of the unborn, handling simultaneously biopolitics and thanatopolitics.

Anaïs Martin : “Who do I look like?” Body, identity and relatedness for donor conceived adults in an anonymous context.

Résumé. Bodies are at the core of donor conceived families’ stories. More specifically, people conceived through an anonymous donation often question their appearance: “Who do I look like?”. On the basis of a social anthropology perspective, the paper will examine the importance of the body in the experience of adults conceived in the French strictly anonymous context, focusing more specifically on the resemblance and transmission talk. It will show how the mention of the body is a medium to talk about their relations and their identity for donor offspring. The paper will use the data collected through face-to-face interviews with fifteen French sperm donor conceived adults. This  study has shown how, by mentioning the body, the participants talk on the one hand about their bond with and affiliation to their father. On the other hand it allows them to address the impossible relationship with their absolutely anonymous donor – whom they do not consider as a father – and how genetic transmission has nevertheless an impact on their own identity. Their body thus simultaneously contains the evidence of their relationship with their father and of the donor’s existence. Through this analysis the mention of genetics and of the biological body will be questioned.


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