2012 Student Research Conference:
25th Annual Student Research Conference

"Designer Babies": The Role of Modern Eugenics in Defining Health and Normality
Laura A. Franks
Prof. Martha L. Rose, Faculty Mentor

Unlike twentieth-century practices of outright genocide, twenty-first-century eugenics is more subtle. It consists of negative engineering, i.e., the correction of genetic abnormalities, and positive engineering, i.e., the enhancement of the genetic make-up of a fetus. According to feminist disability studies scholars such as Anne Waldschmidt, recent advancements in genetic and reproductive technology have transformed the social foundations of motherhood and infancy. Wealthy parents can design offspring to their specifications of appearance, sex, and intellectual and physical potential. The ultimate result of these designer babies is infants and toddlers who become sexualized and portrayed as fashionistas and beauty icons in gossip magazines and toddler pageantry. Disability studies scholar Rosemarie Garland-Thomson introduced the concept of the modern freak show, a narrative of display that maintains the division of them versus us. The display of designer babies fits all criteria of enfreakment in that they serve as a discourse of normalization and standardization.

Keywords: beauty pageant, designer baby, disability, enfreakment, eugenics, Freakery, normalization, standardization

Topic(s):Disability and Society
Interdisciplinary

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 402-1
Location: OP 2210
Time: 2:30

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