In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Reproductive Technologies

  • Introduction
  • Journals
  • Anthologies and Edited Volumes
  • Anthropology and Reproductive Technologies
  • Contraception
  • Critical Feminist Analyses of Reproductive Technologies
  • Kinship and Reproductive Technologies
  • Other Technologies
  • Geographic Areas

Anthropology Reproductive Technologies
Amy Speier, Caridad Zamarripa
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766567-0200


Reproductive technologies are those technologies that aid in animal and human reproduction. Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) are more narrowly defined as those technologies that help people suffering from social or bodily infertility create a family. Socially infertile includes single women and men as well as homosexual couples who rely on donated gametes for the creation of a future child. Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is usually the first step taken by couples having trouble conceiving. The most general type of reproduction technology is in vitro fertilization (IVF), which means that the egg is retrieved from a woman’s uterus and sperm is introduced to these eggs in a petri dish. In the case of male infertility, intracytoplasmic sperm injections (ICSI) may be employed, which means that sperm are injected directly into the egg. IVF may include the use of donated sperm, oocytes, and embryos. In addition to gamete donation, surrogacy may be employed in cases where an intended mother or intended gay fathers cannot carry a pregnancy to term. In addition to being used to create families, contraception is also considered a reproductive technology. Anthropologists have been conducting ethnographic analyses of reproductive technologies by studying the people intimately engaged with these varying technologies. Scholarship revolves around major questions about markets and gift exchange, kinship, and how our understandings of family have shifted with the advent of reproductive technologies, as well as globalization and the ways in which bodies, people, and technologies traverse the globe.


There is a wide variety of journals where anthropological engagements with reproductive technologies may be found. These journals may be general in scope, such as American Ethnologist, which is devoted to the dissemination of current ethnographic research covering a wide range of subjects; Ethnos, whose primary aim is to examine developments in the field of socio-cultural anthropology; American Anthropologist, which is the main journal for the American Anthropological Association; Cultural Anthropology, which is published by the Society of Cultural Anthropology; and Current Anthropology, which is a four-field journal devoted to current theoretical and methodological issues anthropologists of all fields contribute to. Medical anthropologists have been engaged in examining the implications of reproductive technologies in journals devoted to the wide-ranging subfield. These include Medical Anthropology, Anthropology & Medicine, and Medical Anthropology Quarterly. Medical anthropologists also publish in interdisciplinary journals that are devoted to the intersection of culture, health, gender, and the mind. These international journals include Culture, Health and Sexuality and Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry. Anthropologists who employ critical feminist analysis of reproductive technologies may also publish their research findings in journals that are aimed at examining current issues as they relate to men’s and women’s gendered experiences of these technologies, such as Signs. Anthropologists who examine the relationship between nature and culture via kinship studies can contribute to journals that focus on cross-cultural examinations of kinship, which includes the Journal of Comparative Family Studies. Finally, anthropologists have contributed articles to a more medically oriented journal Reproductive Biomedicine Online, which publishes research findings from clinicians and researchers in addition to studies by social scientists regarding the development of embryos and the use of reproductive technologies.

  • American Anthropologist. 1880–.

    This is a flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association.

  • American Ethnologist. 2016–.

    This peer-reviewed journal is published by the American Ethnological Association, which is part of the American Anthropological Association. It publishes current ethnographic research.

  • Anthropology & Medicine. 1994–.

    This journal publishes papers that examine health, illness, and medicine from an anthropological perspective. This journal is dedicated to interdisciplinary research regarding the relationship between culture and health.

  • Cultural Anthropology. 1986–.

    This journal is of the Society for Cultural Anthropology, which is a section of the American Anthropological Association. It is peer-reviewed and focuses on traditional and emerging topics from a variety of theoretical perspectives.

  • Culture, Health and Sexuality. 1999–.

    This interdisciplinary journal encourages contributions from anthropologists as well as scholars from various fields who are engaged in understanding the relationship between culture, health, and sexuality.

  • Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry. 1977–.

    This is an international journal that is another interdisciplinary forum for scholars engaged in medical and psychiatric anthropology, cross-cultural psychiatry, and comparative studies of culture and epidemiology.

  • Current Anthropology. 1955–.

    The Wenner-Gren Foundation sponsors this transnational journal devoted to the four-field anthropological engagement in studies of humankind. The journal features papers from a wide range of studies, including physical anthropology, cultural, and social anthropology as well as ethnology and ethnohistory.

  • Ethnos. 1936–.

    This peer-reviewed journal is devoted to methodological, theoretical and empirical articles within the field of socio-cultural anthropology.

  • Journal of Comparative Family Studies. 1970–.

    This journal publishes papers engaged in comparative research of cross-cultural family studies. Its aim is to promote a clearer understanding of inter- and intra-ethnic family interactions. It is of interest to sociologists, anthropologists, family counselors, and social psychologists.

  • Medical Anthropology. 1977–.

    This journal is devoted to the global study of social patterns of health and illness, disease transmission, understandings of health, and well-being. It assesses medical technologies and the ways in which inequalities affect access to many technologies.

  • Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 1987–.

    This journal is published by the Society for Medical Anthropology, a section of the American Anthropological Association. This journal publishes anthropological work regarding the complex relationship between culture, health, and illness. The journal also aims to contribute to current debates regarding the relationship between anthropology and medical anthropology.

  • Reproductive Biomedicine Online. 2000–.

    This journal aims to bring to the public news on biological and clinical research about human reproduction. While authors include scientists and clinicians, anthropologists have also contributed articles for readers, which include academics, patients, practitioners, and researchers.

  • Signs. 1975–.

    This journal is at the forefront of women’s and gender studies, challenging boundaries of feminist scholarship. This international journal is devoted to understanding the past and present of women’s and men’s lives. This journal hopes to cultivate feminist, queer, and antiracist social transformation.

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