A Transpacific Biopolitics of Reproductive Consent: China’s One Child Policy and the UN

February 8, 2024 | 4:00PM - 5:30PM
Centre for the Study of the United States, Human rights & justice, Public policy

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This event took place in-person at Room 208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON, M5S 3K7
Following the 2016 termination of China’s One Child Policy, families now frequently receive financial incentives to birth to more children to absorb the male gender surplus resulting from patriarchal reactions to the policy. This project investigated Chinese women’s compromised consent to biological reproduction. Nationally, women who are now encouraged to give birth survived, rather than having agreed to, the One Child Policy, and that the decision to birth more children is contingent on the economic condition of the family as well as the state’s future-oriented desire to produce a more robust workforce. Transpacifically, Chinese women’s reproductive consent is further complicated by the United Nation’s post-WWII eugenics project, which provided financial, technological, and research support via the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to assist so-called third-world countries birth and population control policies. This project aimed to demonstrate how the Chinese maternal body is tethered to and articulated through a transpacific biopolitics of reproductive control, where the consent to life is rendered irrelevant both by the discipline of the maternal body and by the pre-natal selection of birth.
Ran Deng is a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. Affiliated with the Women & Gender Studies Institute and the Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, Ran’s research intersects transpacific critique, media studies, and queer aesthetic theory. (Her dissertation, titled “Beyond a Biopolitics of Consent: A Transpacific Aesthetics of Reproductive Futurity,” explores the potential of aesthetics to redress injustice toward birth, natality, and reproductive autonomy across the Pacific.)
Centre for the Study of the United States, Human rights & justice, Public policy
Sophie Bourret-Klein


Ran Deng

Ph.D. candidate, Centre for Comparative Literature, University of Toronto