The Visualised Foetus : A Cultural and Political Analysis of Ultrasound Imagery book cover
1st Edition

The Visualised Foetus
A Cultural and Political Analysis of Ultrasound Imagery

ISBN 9781138108011
Published May 25, 2017 by Routledge
176 Pages

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Book Description

The latest three- and four dimensional images produced by modern ultrasound technology offer strikingly realistic representations of the foetus - representations that have further transformed experiences of pregnancy, the public understanding of foetal existence and the rhetoric of the abortion debate. Presenting a timely feminist engagement with this new technology, The Visualised Foetus explores the widespread familiarity with and popularity of this new technology within the context of a longer history of foetal visualisations. The book offers an array of case studies that examine the diffusion of 3/4D ultrasound images beyond the clinic and the implications of this new technology for biopolitics in the European and American context. With attention to the non-diagnostic and commercial use of 3/4D images, the impact of 3/4D ultrasound within the abortion debate, and new claims that ultrasound aids maternal-foetal bonding, The Visualised Foetus demonstrates the tension between the social and medical significances of foetal ultrasound, the pleasures and dangers of foetal imagery for women, the contested status of ultrasonography as 'scientific' imagery, and struggles over the authority to define and interpret ultrasound imagery. As such, it will appeal to scholars of the sociology of medicine and the body, social theory and gender and cultural studies, as well as those with interest in science and technology studies.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Ultrasound and its application to obstetrics: clinical and social dilemmas; Feminism and the celebrity foetus; The ultimate image in the abortion debate?; Bonding through spectatorship; Bonding scans as ’biotourism’?; The public family foetus online; Concluding thoughts; Bibliography; Index.

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Julie Roberts is Research Fellow in Maternity Care at the University of Nottingham, UK.


’A fascinating look at the new baby’s first picture - 3D/4D ultrasound foetal images. Julie Roberts’ analysis is perceptive and fresh, skillfully drawing from feminist, visual and technology studies to generate insightful questions and enrich our thinking about sonograms, reproductive politics, and the desire to see and know the foetus.’ Lisa M. Mitchell, University of Victoria, Canada ’Underpinned by a thorough examination of the now extensive feminist and sociological literatures on ultrasound practices, Roberts compellingly argues that we need to both take the pleasures of ultrasound seriously and to think carefully about the potentially disturbing implications of contemporary foetal images for the politics of abortion, popular understandings of maternal "bonding'" and the production of family belonging. Succinctly capturing a significant historical moment in reproductive culture, this book will become a valuable source for feminist teaching and research on pregnancy, bodies and imaging for a long time to come.’ Celia Roberts, Lancaster University, UK