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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Lindsay Gayle Larios, Political Science

Pregnant and Precarious: Canadian Immigration through the Lens of Reproductive Justice

Monday, December 14, 2020 (all day)

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Daniela Ferrer



When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


In a context where migration has become a contentious global and national issue, and maternal health and reproductive rights continue to be leading priorities for the Canadian state, there is a disconnect between the ideals of Canadian exceptionalism and the discourses and policies surrounding reproductive rights for non-citizens. While legal rights protections for non-citizens have generally been expansive in many liberal democratic states, the politics governing reproductive rights, however, present a unique tension. In countries like Canada with jus soli citizenship, supporting a non-citizen who is giving birth is not simply about providing services, it’s also about formal membership. Given this, the reproductive rights of migrants are positioned against national sovereignty. A fuller account of reproductive citizenship as it intersects with immigration status is needed. In particular, there is a need for analysis that resists this positioning and takes seriously the realization of sexual and reproductive autonomy as a global human right. Using reproductive justice as an analytic lens, this dissertation contributes to our empirical and theoretical knowledge of how reproductive citizenship is experienced by pregnant people with precarious immigration status. Drawing on 24 narrative interviews with temporary status and nonstatus women living in Montreal, Canada, 13 key informant interviews with service providers, and a review of relevant policies, this dissertation situates the lived experiences of pregnant precarious status migrants within Canadian immigration and reproductive politics. This analysis reveals how neoliberal notions of choice and the racialized and gendered practices of nation-building intersect in the lives of migrant pregnant people and argues that immigration status is barrier to reproductive justice. In particular, narrative interviews showed how immigration and reproduction strategies are often co-produced; however, who can access these strategies and how they are received when they do is shaped by nationality and highly racialized. Precarious immigration programs are not amenable to the needs of pregnant people, such that migration management on the part of the state is experienced as reproductive management in the lives of precarious status migrants. Specifically, they face challenges maintaining their status and accessing basic public services and protections as they navigate pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood.

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