The Depo Provera Affair: Israeli Anti-Natalism & The Reproductive Infrastructure of Occupation 

Authors: Kathryn Medien*,
Topics: Sexuality, Ethnicity and Race, Middle East
Keywords: Reproduction; Anti-Blackness; Race; Palestine; Sexuality
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Maryland A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In 2008, an article published by Israeli national newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth offered a report into the significant decrease in births among Jewish Ethiopian immigrants to Israel. It reported that in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak, among the fifty-seven Israeli families of Ethiopian origin, only one baby had been born over a three-year period (Association for Civil Rights in Israel, 2013). Subsequent testimonies of numerous Ethiopian-Israeli women revealed that since arriving in Israel they had been visiting health clinics where they were administered with Depo Provera contraceptive injections every three-months without informed consent.
Intervening in exceptionalist narratives of Jewish-Israeli pronatalism that ignore settler colonial and racial histories, in this paper I situate the coercive use of Depo Provera within what I term reproductive infrastructure of occupation. While much recent work has impressively articulated how Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land operates through infrastructural technologies of governance (Jabary-Salamanca, 2011; Khalili, 2013; Mbembe, 2003; Puar 2015) and through practices of sexual demographic control (Ilmoud, 2015; Puar, 2017; Shalhoub-Kevorkian, 2015, 2016; Winter, 2016), an examination of the treatment of Black-Israeli women reveals the broader and differential deployment of these technologies, affecting the reproduction of all subjects deemed racially incompatible with the Israeli body politic and revealing the structural relationship between Zionism and anti-Black racism.

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