Claire Grino

Panthéon-Sorbonne University

CSTMS Research Unit: Berkeley Program in Science and Technology Studies
Affiliation period: June 2016 - December 2016;

Completed: 2015

Degrees Ph.D. Philosophy :: Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (France) and Université Laval (Quebec, Canada) (2015)
M.S Philosophy; DEA Philosophy :: Université Paris 10 (France) (2001; 2003)
B.S. Philosophy :: Université de Tours (France) (1999)
Research Areas

-Philosophy of technology, Science and Technology Studies
-Gender studies
-Biomedical innovations, human enhancement, modified bodies, assisted reproductive technologies
-Biopolitics, medical ethics and reproductive justice

My research deals with the ethical and political implications of technology, specifically in regards to biomedicine-related gender issues. On one hand, biomedical technologies are challenging sexuality, the gendered body and the traditional family, but on the other hand, they rely on the commodification of the body, the development of biocapitalism and bioeconomy, new eugenics and biocolonialism. Facing the polarized feminist positions aroused by demands for biomedical interventions upon the body, I take a step away from the normative discussion of whether or not these technologies should be embraced– do they improve or impair gender equality? Instead, I focus on the values and conceptions bounding biomedical practices, especially regarding the notions of body, gender identities and the idea of Nature. The epistemological study of the cultural shifts implemented by these technologies is another way to handle their critique. It aims to help any normative analysis to be grounded in the very socio-cultural reality of the biomedical practices.

The point of departure of my dissertation was the fact that, since the second half of the 20th century, we have gone to the doctor seeking biological interventions for an ever-expanding set of problems previously not seen as medical– like the use of birth-control pill, assisted reproductive technologies, hormone replacement therapy during menopause or drugs targeting sexual arousal as examples of this. As we know, most feminist theories argue that our identities are historical, not natural. But it seems like, nowadays, we take for granted that the manipulation of organic matter could achieve some of our goals related to gender. Working on the question of how our gender identities are related to our biological bodies, I identified biomedicine as a specific set of practices that invests the flesh according to new knowledge with new forms of power.

We sure know what can be subsumed under the term "disciplinary techniques" (Foucault), well examined by generations of feminist theorists and designating the slow acquisition of gender roles through the process of a differentiated education. But the molecular biology revolution focused on “life itself” (Franklin), has given rise to another way of gendering our bodies through new kinds of body techniques, the "biomedical technologies." In the context of such entanglements between the vital and the social at a molecular level (Rose), I contend that a new chapter of the history of the gendered body is being written.

My dissertation, entitled "Feminist theories, gendered bodies and biomedical innovations: anti-naturalism revisited," defines criteria for a feminist critique of biomedical technologies in accordance with the specificities of power relations insinuated by biomedical embodiment.

One of my next projects is a case study focused on egg freezing. It aims to set a comparative perspective of this on-going practice here in the US and its introduction in France, where it has recently been approved for non-therapeutic uses under strict conditions (implementing decree: October 15th, 2015).

last updated: October 31st, 2016

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