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Making “healthy” families: the biomedicalization of kin marriage in contemporary Turkey

Kramer, Maria (2019) Making “healthy” families: the biomedicalization of kin marriage in contemporary Turkey. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis focuses on the impact of reproductive genetic health services on the making of “healthy” families in Turkey by exploring how kin marriage is being conceptualized, managed, and negotiated as a genetic risk factor and reproductive health concern within intersecting biomedical and genetic spaces in contemporary Turkey. It asks how notions of “healthy” reproduction and “healthy” family making inform the health policies, discourses and practices surrounding the biomedical management of kin marriage, and how couples practicing kin marriage respond to and negotiate concepts of “risky reproduction” and “genetic risk” in their experiences with genetic services. Although kin marriages as close as first cousin marriage are legally accepted and comparatively frequent in Turkey, these marriage patterns have long occupied a contested position within Turkey’s society. Modernist nationalist discourse depicted kin marriages as a remnant of the Ottoman past signifying the lingering presence of internal “non-modernity”, “traditionalism” and “Oriental” otherness. These existing legacies of otherization and stigmatization of kin marriage have gained a new biomedical quality with the emerging re-conceptualization of kin marriage as a reproductive health problem following the spread and routinization of reproductive genetic health services in Turkey from the 1980s onwards. This “biomedicalization” (Clarke et al. 2003) of kin marriage has shifted the question of how future citizens should be brought up in a socially and politically desirable familial environment to the question of how these future citizens should be conceived and born in the first place. Based on a critical reading of relevant government issued texts on reproductive health, family making and kin marriage, 19 qualitative interviews with medico-genetic professionals as well as 18 qualitative interviews with lay participants practicing kin marriage, and observations during a two-and-a-half months stay at a public genetics clinic in Istanbul, this thesis explores the (bio)political implications of this biomedicalization process.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 Maria Kramer
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Friese, Carrie and Ali, Suki

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