Futures of Legal Governance in Globalization: The Case of Family Life

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Seminarsaal 20 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Sonja VAN WICHELEN, University of Sydney, Australia
For many nation-states the regulation of family life and reproduction has been a central concern in the control of populations. More recently, processes of globalization and biotechnologization are redefining practices of reproduction and modern parenthood – and are changing the ways in which states make legal sense of family and family life. Drawing upon sociological, anthropological and socio-legal studies – and working with a transdisciplinary framework that involves legal practitioners – this paper focuses on the changing landscape of reproductive governance in relation to processes of globalization and biotechnology. How to imagine society and legal practice in the field of family life that is increasingly affected by processes of geneticization and biomedicalization? And what kind of legal institution can better regulate family life in the age of globalization?

Scientific “truths” are active agents in producing public moralities and help carve out new technologies of governance. While there has been ample research in forensic science and criminology on how science affects legalities, there are only few studies on its ramifications in the field of reproductive legal governance. By analysing responses from immigration lawyers as well as family law lawyers on cases respectively involving family reunion and transnational surrogacy, my paper explores the relation between legitimacy and legal practice. I argue that the global regulation of family life depends more and more on the legitimacy of biology. Moreover, as I will demonstrate, the normalization of such a “biolegitimacy” in jurisprudence produces not only multiple legalities of family life but also the formation of genetic citizenship.