The Global Biopolitics of the IUD
The intrauterine device (IUD) is used by 150 million women around the world. It is the second most prevalent method of female fertility control in the global South and the third most prevalent in the global North. Over its five decades of use, the IUD has been viewed both as a means for women’s reproductive autonomy and as coercive tool of state-imposed population control, as a convenient form of birth control on a par with the pill and as a threat to women’s health. In this book, Chikako Takeshita investigates the development, marketing, and use of the IUD since the 1960s. She offers a biography of a multifaceted technological object through a feminist science studies lens, tracing the transformations of the scientific discourse around it over time and across different geographies.
Takeshita describes how developers of the IUD adapted to different social interests in their research and how changing assumptions about race, class, and female sexuality often guided scientific inquiries. The IUD, she argues, became a “politically versatile technology,” adaptable to both feminist and nonfeminist reproductive politics because of researchers’ attempts to maintain the device’s suitability for women in both the developing and the developed world. Takeshita traces the evolution of scientists’ concerns—from contraceptive efficacy and product safety to the politics of abortion—and describes the most recent, hormone-releasing, menstruation-suppressing iteration of the IUD. Examining fifty years of IUD development and use, Takeshita finds a microcosm of the global political economy of women’s bodies, health, and sexuality in the history of this contraceptive device.
About the Author
Chikako Takeshita is Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at the University of California, Riverside.
“The book’s six chapters provide a thorough, well-documented study of the IUD as it involves a complicated relationship among women, health care providers, and bio/socio/political systems.”—Choice
“...[A] fascinating and understandable history of a device that has harnessed women and that women have harnessed to control fertility, in ways that vary across time, space, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, even as it shaped scientific and political discourse.”—American Scientist
“Chikako Takeshita's investigation of the 50-year history of the IUD is insightful and provocative. Guided by a feminist perspective and methodology, her book is must reading for anyone interested in the evolving role of contraceptive technology in women’s empowerment, reproductive health, and global population policy.”
—Barbara B. Crane, Executive Vice President, Ipas
“The Global Biopolitics of the IUD provides a much-needed analysis of the history of intrauterine contraceptive devices; as such, it is a welcome addition to the existing scholarship on birth control, abortion, and sterilization. Deploying the methods of feminist science studies, Chikako Takeshita offers an innovative perspective on the multiple uses, interpretations, and meanings of this contraceptive technology in the Global North and South over the last five decades.”
—Elizabeth Siegel Watkins, Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine, University of California, San Francisco; author of On the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives, 1950-1970
“This is an excellent book that convincingly shows the local and global power dynamics involved in the co-construction of users and contraceptive technologies. Giving the IUD its dynamic history is a major contribution tofeminist theory and science and technology studies.”
—Nelly Oudshoorn, Professor of Technology Dynamics and Healthcare at the University of Twente and author of The Male Pill: A Biography of Technology in the Making