Kathi Inman Berens
Date of Award
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Arts and Letters and University Honors
Arts & Letters
Apocalyptic films, Apocalyptic television programs, Pregnancy in motion pictures, Reproductive rights, Nationalism, Biopolitics, COVID-19 (Disease)
While America has long held a fascination for the end of the world, the apocalypse has enjoyed a surge in popularity over the past twenty years, rising the ranks from cult classic to mainstream media - many examples of which include representations of pregnancy. Reproductive futurism is exemplified in such varied recent sources as A Quiet Place, Bird Box, Train to Busan, The Walking Dead, and more through their representations of pregnant women in apocalyptic settings. The prevalence of this trope, in addition to specific messages found within the contexts of each example, coincide with recent political increases in discussion around reproductive rights and bodily autonomy, especially for women. I argue that reproductive futurism, even when presented from the perspective of ecological protection, is a political tool used in service of nationalistic ideals, and that the ubiquitous nature of reproductive futurism as found in apocalyptic media points to the genre as itself largely a proponent of and encouragement towards nationalism. Additionally, disability representation serves as a reversal of the productivity valued within the pregnant body or the body capable of pregnancy, only valued when the specificity of disability actually proves useful for the able-bodied characters. In recent news, nationalism has increased within the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic in which we currently find ourselves, as certain lives are prioritized over others. Disability and re-productivity exist on opposite sides of the same nationalistic ideal which values the human being as an "abilities machine."
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Horger, Emily E., "Pregnancy and the Apocalypse: the Enlistment of Reproductive Futurism in Aid of Nationalism" (2020). University Honors Theses. Paper 920.