Be the first to like this
From ultrasound photos and pregnancy apps to home-delivered Bluetooth foetal heartrate monitors connected to smartphones, monitoring and surveillance are increasingly prevalent throughout pregnancy and the early life of infants (indeed, often beginning long before conception in cases where medical assistance is required). Recording, digitally encoding, sharing and comparing in-utero activities with established norms can be a source of reassurance, or great anxiety. These activities are increasingly part of domestic settings, not just medical spaces, situating monitoring as a normal part of everyday, intimate life. The notion of intimate surveillance thus captures an inherent contradiction: the intimacy of parents and loved ones situates these actions as driven by the very best of intentions, but surveillance necessarily entails the viewing, recording, encoding, analysing (and increasingly, informatic sharing) of the unborn and infants activities and lives in granular detail. Moreover, normalised activities during pregnancy and infancy situate surveillance as directly linked with parenting and caring. This paper explores these emerging cultural norms, the relationship with broader notions of surveillance, and the challenges of generating, sharing and respecting significant amounts of data about the unborn and infants in contexts where discussions of privacy and boundaries are urgently needed.