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The Misleading Body: Reproducing a Defective Child in Italy

Reproductive Governance and Bodily Materiality

ISBN: 978-1-80071-439-7, eISBN: 978-1-80071-438-0

Publication date: 7 April 2022


Having a baby is a sensitive matter and the child's body occupies a relevant space within the imaginary and the concerns of the intentional, biomedicalized contemporary reproducers. Besides, the myth of ‘the perfect child’ claims specific moral injunctions about making bodies since the body conveys social recognition codes both through flesh or genetic matrix and embodied practices. So, having a child with an unexpected ‘defective’ body becomes a stressful challenge for the reproductive experience of the intentional parent(s). In any case, both parent(s) and biomedical professionals enact a hierarchization among the ‘damaged’ materials of the child's body based on the perceived and/or the classified degree of physical or mental abnormality, on its behavioural embodiments and on the possibility to re-order, fix and control the (biosocial) disorder of an abnormal unable and/or undisciplined body.

Based on recent investigations on reproduction and disability in two regions of Italy, this essay comparatively investigates the experiences of two associations of parents with asthmatic and ADHD children.

Specifically, I tried to explore how parents of children with misleading bodies emotionally, practically and morally face their unexpected reproduction, and if and how they are being entrapped in or resist the pressure of neuro-biomedical governance, schooling disciplining techniques and social blame. I tried to articulate some suggesting concepts, such as ‘delegate biopolitics’ and ‘discursive surveillance’ (Memmi, 2008), and ‘self-constraint behaviours’ (Elias, 1998), in order to analyze ethnographic material.



Di Silvio, R. (2022), "The Misleading Body: Reproducing a Defective Child in Italy", Guerzoni, C.S. and Mattalucci, C. (Ed.) Reproductive Governance and Bodily Materiality (Emerald Studies in Reproduction, Culture and Society), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 179-196.



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Copyright © 2022 Rossana Di Silvio. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited