From a historical perspective, selective reproduction is nothing new. Infanticide, abandonment, and selective neglect of children have a long history, and the widespread deployment of sterilization and forced abortion in the twentieth century has been well documented. Yet in recent decades selective reproduction has been placed under the aegis of science and expertise in novel ways. New laboratory and clinical techniques allow for the selective fertilization of gametes, implantation of embryos, or abortion of fetuses. Although they will often overlap with assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), what we term selective reproductive technologies (SRTs) are of a more specific nature: Rather than aiming to overcome infertility, they are used to prevent or allow the birth of certain kinds of children. This review highlights anthropological research into SRTs in different parts of the world, discussing how selective reproduction engages with issues of long-standing theoretical concern in anthropology, such as politics, kinship, gender, religion, globalization, and inequality.


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