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Genetics and the Identity Politics of Parenthood and Family: We are family?

February 19 – February 20 2009

ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum
The University of Edinburgh
College of Humanities and Social Science
St John's Land
Holyrood Road
Edinburgh EH8 8AQ

Organised by:

Gill Haddow (INNOGEN) and Katie Featherstone (CESAgen)

To view the Report from this workshop

Please note this is a past event.

View Video from the \'We Are Family\' workshop


This workshop will raise questions about how family and parent-child relationships are constructed, resisted or affirmed, and the role of genetics in that process.  The discussions will be based around three inter-linked themes:

1) Reproducing the family: Children of your “own” or “your own” children?

2) Children’s “need” for a father and mother: Who’s the Daddy?

3) What and who is family in the context of genetic and biological citizenship?

Issues for discussion include:

  •  What implications does the recent recommendation by the HFEA to remove reference to the “need for a father” have for lesbian and gay couples wishing to have a child?

  • How has the need for couples to have their “own” children interacted with technological and medical advances?

  • Should children born from donated eggs or sperm be able to source this information from their birth certificates?

  • What is family in the context of genetic risk information?

  • In the absence of a biological connection to a parent, does a social connection suffice?  In what ways is genetic inheritance important? 

  • How do we recognise and maintain family relationships? For example, what is the role of character traits and physical resemblances in maintaining relations?

Day 1 Programme:  Thursday 19th February 2009:

12.30 – 1.30: Lunch and Registration

Session 1: Family Secrets.
1.30-2.00: Speaker 1 Katie Featherstone
2.00-2.30: Speaker 2 Carol Smart
2.30 -3pm: Janet Carsten comments and leads round-table discussion.
3pm -3.30: Tea and coffee

Session 2: Who are Family?:
3.30-4.00: Speaker 3 Martin Richards
4.00-4.30: Speaker 4 Natalie Gamble
4.30-5.00: Caroline Jones comments and leads round-table discussion.
1830: Dinner @ Vittorias, George V Bridge, Edinburgh.

Day 2 Programme: Friday 20th February 2009:

9.00 – 9.30: Tea and Coffee

Session 3: Family Matters?
9.30 -10.00: Speaker 5 Monica Bonaccorso-Rothe.
10.00 – 10.30: Speaker 6 Jennifer Speirs.
10.30 – 11.00 Susan Kelly comments and leads round-table discussion.
11.00 – 11.30: Tea and coffee.
11.30 – 12.30 Workshop: Exploring how we can use fiction to explore the concept of family (led by Pippa Goldschmidt, writer-in-residence, Genomics Forum)
12.30 – 12.45 Summing up and Close.

12.45 – 1.30 Lunch and departures.,8213,en.t4.html