Since the 1990s, scientific studies have explored possible correlations of “race/ethnicity” with ovarian aging and, by extension, the outcome of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedures. Relying on a close reading of English-language scientific publications about “Asian” or “South Asian” women, corroborated by interviews with selected authors in 2018 and 2021 as well as ethnographic research in India conducted between 2010 and 2017, I analyze processes and practices of racializing infertility over time and across space. In a first step, I explore the socio-political configurations through which South/Asian race/ethnicity became a relevant variable in infertility research between the 1990s and 2010s. Further, I interrogate how South/Asian race/ethnicity has been scientifically mobilized and problematized by examining publications from the US, the UK, and India/Spain. I argue that South/Asian race/ethnicity has been constituted as an independent risk factor for ovarian aging and/or IVF outcome by invisibilizing possible alternative explanations for inequalities with regard to infertility and by establishing comparability and continuity between contexts. Inquiring why researchers actively try to make a seemingly universal notion of South/Asian race/ethnicity present in their work, I point to global scientific hierarchies and postcolonial power dynamics that characterize this body of literature. Finally, I explore the implications that the notion of South/Asian-ness as risk has in medical practice in India and illustrate how it contributes to bringing the (in)fertility of bodies racialized as “South Asian” into new realms of capital accumulation.
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