Kinship, Bioethics, and Citizenship in France

Since the beginning of the seventies, debates on bioethics have turned the body into a sacred object, which is now considered as a depository of French identity. Perreau uncovers this new relationship to the body in French policies towards marriage, adoption, and immigration. In studying these processes, he analyzes new forms of expertise driven by heteronormative representations of the future, which resist changing forms of kinship, and the emergence of new reproductive technologies. He coined the idea of "pastoral governance" to describe the way institutions spur citizens to monitor themselves under the influence of dominant models of education. 

Perreau’s research analyzes parliamentary debates on family and reproductive issues, as well as French and European case law. It questions the interface between migration policies and adoption as well as the emergence of the concept of “parenting” in the mass media. It also throws light on social work by offering a lexical analysis of the types of justification deployed by agents of the Child Social Welfare Agency when accrediting a parent for adoption. By questioning their stereotypes with regards to gender, race, and sexuality, Perreau deconstructs the rhetorics of risk that dominates debates on kinship in contemporary France.

Selected publications: 

  • “Adoption or the Metaphor of Power”, Adoption & Culture, special issue, (6) 1, Spring 2018, 33-34.
  • The Politics of Adoption. Gender and the Making of French Citizenship, MIT Press, 2014, 210 pp.
  • “The Political Economy of ‘Marriage for All’,” Contemporary French Civilization, 39 (3), 2014, pp. 351-367.
  • Penser l’adoption. La gouvernance pastorale du genre, Presses Universitaires de France, 2012, 218 pp.
  • Homoparentalité. Approches scientifiques et politiques (coedited with Anne Cadoret, Martine Gross, and Caroline Mécary), Presses Universitaires de France, 2006, 444 pp.

Project Lead