CfP: MART Babies – SMART Cities: From the intimate body to the Asian city

The 33rd International Geographical Congress

21-25 August 2016 Beijing China

CALL FOR PAPERS: IGU Commission on Gender and Geography

Session Title: MART Babies – SMART Cities: From the intimate body to the Asian city.

Session organisers: Anindita Datta[i] and Ayona Datta[ii]

From the growth of Medically Assisted Reproduction Technology (MART) to the rising desire for SMART cities and citizens in Asia  there is now an increased recognition that technology is an essential tool for ‘improving’ the quality of life at different scales. While the trend of commissioning designer babies engineered through advances in new reproductive technology as well as the production of intelligent or networked cities is not new, the rising tide of smart technologies pervading everyday life is a relatively new phenomenon in the global south, seen in the aftermath of liberalisation of national economies. In this new phase, the global south provides ‘wombs for hire’ while it is also the global south which has become the new markets for smart technologies seen in the rise of SMART cities and neighbourhoods. Both processes share interesting similarities in that they embody the crucial role of technology, particularly IT, screening and surveillance technology, global capital flows and neoliberal policies in the backdrop of a entrepreneurial State. More crucially they embody the strategic use of desire – not only as affect, but also as a material need associated with an economic value. We argue that these key drivers have acted in concert to spawn structural spaces in Asia where MART and SMART systematically appropriate and colonise particular bodies and urban spaces. Such colonisation and appropriation can extend from commissioning wombs to regulating access to urban space. The gendered and class implications of this are obvious, as also are the bio politics and moral geographies of space -from the body to the geopolitical. We note also the near clinical distancing of the producers of MART enabled babies and IT enabled SMART cities from the objects of their labour, a key element both in surrogacy and the new SMART urban spaces, together with the migration of everyday life from real to digital spaces. We are thus interested in exploring the links between the growing penetration of technology into the production of natal bodies and urban neighbourhoods, the increasing digitisation of everyday life and the growth of ICT enabled cities. We invite papers with a focus on Asia on the following broad sub themes:

(i)         Geopolitics of MART and SMART .

(ii)        The Biopolitics of MART and SMART in Asia.

(iii)       Manipulation of desire and territory – of babies, bodies and cities.

(iv)       Transnational and translocal flows of capital and people in MART and SMART.

(v)        The digitisation of social encounters and everyday life .

The list is broad and not exhaustive. Abstracts of about 500 words should be sent to and
[i] Department of Geography, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India.
[ii] School of Geography, University of Leeds, UK.


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