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Double Issue: 9.1-9.2: Fall 2010 / Spring 2011
Guest Edited by Rebecca Jordan-Young
Critical Conceptions: Technology, Justice, and the Global Reproductive Market

The subRosa Collective: Cyberfeminist Interventions

A Review by Rebecca Jordan-Young

At the busy junction of art, activism, critical science studies, and blunt-talking politics, the subRosa collective has generated dozens—possibly more—of performances and texts that explore the intersection of reproductive technology and reproductive justice.

subRosa is brainy and approachable, hilarious, disturbing and reassuring. Yes, their works seem to say, it really is as bad as you think. And no, you are not alone in noticing. For a collective that does so much work online, their corpus is surprisingly visceral, never allowing the Taylorist impulse of modern reproduction to split the body into parts that are less personal, less bodily, or simply mechanistic. They are underhanded purveyors of "scientism"—using the forms, images, structures of (reproductive) science in a way that baldly displays the authoritarianism and eugenicism that so often lurks there.

One of the most consistent and remarkable achievements of the subRosa collective has to do with the affective tone of their projects. Their works address (potential and actual) buyers and sellers in what they call "the flesh market" with a matter-of-factness that feels friendly and disarming even though the critiques are devastatingly sharp. Somehow, the judgments and intense emotions their works invite are the viewers', and it seems much more engaging and effective than splaying their own judgments all over the pieces. Their works invite us to think and react: what might we do about this? They leave us smarter.

We have gathered here some of subRosa's most potent materials dealing with reproductive technologies and justice. The texts, forms, photographs, and links were all created by subRosa except where specifically noted. As an 'anti-copyright' collective, subRosa generously makes their materials freely available on the web via their website www.cyberfeminism.net; make sure to provide proper attribution to subRosa if you use these materials. We encourage you to visit their site early and often to see more.

We'll start with subRosa's Manifesto, taken from their website, and then move on to materials from two of their projects: U-Gen-A-Chix and Expo EmmaGenics.

subRosa Manifesto

subRosa's name honors feminist pioneers in art, activism, labor, science, and politics: Rosa Bonheur, Rosa Luxemburg, Rosie the Riveter, Rosa Parks and Rosie Franklin.

subRosa is a reproducible cyberfeminist cell of cultural researchers committed to combining art, activism, and politics to explore and critique the effects of the intersections of the new information and biotechnologies on women's bodies, lives, and work.

subRosa produces artworks, activist campaigns and projects, publications, media interventions, and public forums that make visible the effects of the interconnections of technology, gender, and difference; feminism and global capital; new bio and medical technologies and women's health; and the changed conditions of labor and reproduction for women in the integrated circuit.

subRosa practices a situational embodied feminist politics nourished by conviviality, self-determination, and the desire for affirmative alliances and coalitions.

Let a million subRosas bloom!


In the Cultures of Eugenics pamphlet, created for their performance piece U-Gen-A-Chix, subRosa juxtaposes the world of technologically-assisted reproduction among humans with the science and commerce of modern global agribusiness. After they answer their own question "Why are chickens like women? and women like chickens?" you might never think of reproductive technologies (or genetically-engineered foods) the same way again. Here, we display the Cultures of Eugenics pamphlet, the U-Gen-A-Chix project description, and a link to the website created for earliest version of this performance ("US Grade AAA Premium Eggs," Bowling Green State University, Ohio, April, 2002). The website, for a fictional egg donor business called "Express Choice (A Division of Technical Advantage Genetics Corporation)," includes an interactive worksheet for calculating "Your Net Worth on the Flesh Market!" as well as an "Egg Donor Application Form." Make sure to click on all the links!

subRosa - Cultures of Eugenics Cultures of Eugenics
Download PDF
subRosa - Fertility Tourism and Egg Donor Handbook Fertility Tourism and Egg Donor Handbook
Download PDF
subRosa - Express Choice website Express Choice
Visit Website

Expo EmmaGenics

Expo EmmaGenics displays the uncomfortable entanglements of corporate biotechnology, US imperialism, and would-be parents' commitments to "superior" offspring and consumer choice. With its dreamy, futuristic soundtrack, friendly/authoritative female narrator, and plenty of high-tech graphics and sophisticated trade show props, Expos EmmaGenics is a fantasy "woman-friendly" trade show. The narrator's invitation to participate in the show models the biotech industry's common tactic of coopting feminist language and ideals to support the corporate, consumerist vision of reproduction: "Find out how you can enjoy complete reproductive choice and control. Expo Emmagenics supports a woman's choice to participate in the fertility industry."

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