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Epigenetics, the study of heritable changes in gene expression, has been heralded as one of the most promising new fields of scientific inquiry. Current large-scale studies selectively draw on epigenetics to connect behavioral choices made by pregnant people, such as diet and exercise, to health risks for future generations.

As the first ethnography of its kind, Weighing the Future examines the sociopolitical implications of ongoing pregnancy trials in the United States and the United Kingdom, illuminating how processes of scientific knowledge production are linked to capitalism, surveillance, and environmental reproduction. Read More


“What happens when we recruit maternal bodies that economize predictive risk based on race, class, and obesity? Weighing the Future reveals that although prenatal trials are misaligned, they continue to scaffold scientific knowledge and portent future ‘value.’ Valdez has given us an astounding book that challenges our embrace of epigenetics, urging us to critique how capitalist interests make racialized, classed, and ‘nonnormative’ pregnant bodies individually accountable for the future.” — Dána-Ain Davis, author of Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth

Weighing the Future brilliantly exposes how cutting-edge science fosters the same old racialized narratives of health. Carefully detailed, analytically nuanced, politically engaged, and ethnographically rich, Valdez chronicles how histories of race continue to shape science’s views of pregnancy and the pregnant body. A must-read book for our times.” — Banu Subramaniam, author of Ghost Stories for Darwin: The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity

Weighing the Future offers a fascinating and provocative account of how the new science of epigenetics has been folded into preexisting paradigms that locate reproductive risk primarily within women’s bodies. In one brilliant chapter after another, Natali Valdez demonstrates how ‘the environment’ became understood as a matter of individual women’s behaviors, foreclosing a more capacious, structurally oriented instantiation of epigenetics. A crucial intervention into contemporary debates about reproductive health and medicine, this book is a must-read for scholars, medical researchers, and clinicians.” — Rene Almeling, author of GUYnecology: The Missing Science of Men’s Reproductive Health

Check out this interview on the book