A Review of “The Mafia and Terrorism: Identifying and Analyzing a Negative Relationship between the Mafia and Terrorist Attacks in the Italian State” by Danielle Marion French

Reviewed by Associate Editor Emily Eget 

French’s “The Mafia and Terrorism: Identifying and Analyzing a Negative Relationship between the Mafia and Terrorist Attacks in the Italian State” explores the interaction between organized crime and terrorist groups, hypothesizing that networks like the mafia have a negative relationship with terrorists. This hypothesis is in contrast to what French assumes is the consensus among the Italian government, which combats terrorism with the same units that tackle organized crime. French chooses Italy as the paper’s case study, with Italy’s unique position having an extensive history of organized crime and their lack of terrorist attacks in comparison to other European countries.

In the Literature Review, French states that the first possible avenue to study the relationship between organized crime and terrorism is their amalgamation: how each are gradually becoming more like one another. However, according to French, the second avenue is most relevant to the project’s mode of study: regarding the relationship as interaction between distinct groups. This interaction can be positive (as in the case of alliances, most commonly through drug and weapons trading), negative (competition from differing objectives and intrusion of terrorists on pre-existing illegal infrastructures), or neutral (negatives and positives balance out).

French conducted her research using units of groups rather than individuals, with a focus on the Sicilian, Campanian, and Calabrian Mafias. French adopts both qualitative and quantitative analysis to evaluate the relationship between the mafia and terrorists. In her qualitative analysis, French uses document analysis and direct observation to gain insight into mafia attitudes, statements of mafia leaders, and the mafia entanglement within the state and among citizens. French discusses the theoretical approach with predicted factors for a negative relationship: the mafia hierarchical structure, mafia self-sufficiency/inner-group loyalty making it unnecessary to incorporate terrorists, the mafia’s nationalist tendencies, and the mafia’s reliance on the state terrorists aim to destroy.

For French’s quantitative analysis, she uses the number of terrorist attacks in a region-year raw count as the dependent variable and a proxy measurement of mafia presence as the independent variable, over the time period 2001-2015. French used population and GDP per capita as controls, as highly populated and urban areas are more prone to terrorism. French acknowledges the shortcomings of this research, as the chosen proxy of confiscated mafia goods is imperfect. Some regions could simply have better confiscation measures in place, while others may lack confiscated goods because the mafia is deeply entrenched in the state overseeing such task forces. French’s research amounted in a significant P value for a negative coefficient with mafia presence, a significant P value for a positive coefficient with population growth, and an insignificant P value for a positive coefficient with GDPpc. This result aligns with French’s original hypothesis: a greater mafia presence is associated with less terrorist attacks.

French’s research aspires to influence counter-terrorism policy and advocates separating enforcement efforts from those dealing with organized crime. French emphasizes that the government currently believes in a positive relationship between organized crime and terrorist activity, and their efforts to curb organized crime to curb terrorism may be counterproductive. However, French does recognize the limits of her research in the overall picture of counterterrorism. Italy only only serves as a very specific case study, and her research only focused on terrorism defined as attacks.

A Review of Valeria Balza’s “Domestic Food Policy and Urban Unrest: Unpacking the link between global food prices and sociopolitical stability”

Reviewed by Associate Editor Astrid Wik Hallaraaker

Since the turn of the millennium, global food prices have steadily increased, at times hitting levels not seen since the 1970s. Lower-income countries, where staples make up a large percentage of people’s total expenditures, have particularly been made to feel the effect of this, whose citizens have frequently taken to the streets to protest against their increasing deprivation.

However, statistical data nonetheless tells us that there is no direct, unequivocal relationship between economical deprivation and recurrence of public protest. By attempting to explain this observation in “Domestic Food Policy and Urban Unrest: Unpacking the link between global food prices and sociopolitical stability,” Valeria Balza enters into conversation with a large tradition of scholars. Whilst political regime types have been given importance as part of the larger political opportunity structure for protesting, Balza’s main contribution lies in her reintroduction of the state as a key agent. National governments have the potential to moderate the effect of global price shocks on the local population, and she in fact confirms that the nature and degree of government response is statistically significant for the frequency of public protest. She also claims to find that all else equal, autocracies face lower incidences of urban unrest following government interventions.

These findings appear to have important repercussions for how governments ought to act following global price shock. It is therefore unfortunate that Balza’s methodology only partly manages to back up her hypothesis. After having proven through a quantitative analysis that pro-rural policies cause a higher incidence of urban unrest in the 55 African and Asian cities she studies, she proceeds to claim that “this paper finds the effect of government distortions to agricultural markets on urban unrest contingent on regime type.” However, rather than keeping pro-rural government intervention as a constant and thenlooking at the contingency of regime type, she takes democracies’ generally less rural-friendly policies as sufficient to prove her claim. She thus substitutes “type of government intervention” for “regime type” as her variable, which completely undermines her explanation that regime type matters regardless of the nature of their market intervention.

However, the author’s uncritical division of regime types into a simple binary might in any case have undermined the explanatory salience of her findings. Since she aims to explain her findings in reference to regimes’ relative fear of electoral sanctions, it is a serious flaw that we cannot know in any greater detail the extent to which these elections succeed in holding their politicians accountable. Balza ends her essay by recognising “the complexities of food policy systems and fluctuating global prices—especially when combined with local economic and political grievances.” Ideally, we would see this recognition of complexity reflected in her consideration of political institutions necessarily shaped by their own, contextual specificities.

A Review of “Prisons, HIV/AIDS, & Digital Patients”

Reviewed by Associate Editor Upasna Saha

Nadya Kronis’ “Prisons, HIV/AIDS, & Digital Patients: Governing the Health of Carceral Citizens Between Abandonment & Care” touches on a number of important modern political issues. By looking at primarily HIV/AIDs patients, it considers how telemedicine functions for incarcerated individuals, the impacts of mobile health, or mHealth, on non-incarcerated communities (most of whom tend to include members of marginalized groups), and the connections between these phenomena. Kronis believes that these two groups are very interrelated and much can be learned from applying to the findings of one to the other.  

Kronis begins by discussing the history of medical services in the prison context, focusing on privatization, access, and quality control. She then moves to discuss how the relationship between healthcare and prison is reflective of Michel Foucault’s concept of biopower, power which is manifested through the control of a group’s health. Kronis also brings up the concept of carceral citizenship, considering the rights an inmate has, namely to healthcare, when they enter the prison system. As she continues to explain how the positives and negatives of telemedicine in the incarcerated context, she also raises questions related to the format of the technology itself, the difficulties currently and formerly incarcerated individuals face in accessing healthcare, and how the broader concepts of racism and prejudice factor into this relationship.

In the later half of the essay, Kronis looks at the use of mHealth in a non-incarcerated context, particularly in a relatively less affluent African-American community. Here, her focus becomes more centered on whether mHealth has lived up to the standards its creators and other scholars have claimed for it. Kronis finds that, while mHealth does certainly have its beneficial effects, issues of accessibility and clinical success nevertheless do still persist.

I sincerely applaud Kronis for her focus on issue of such serious relevance to today’s world; much more research should be done in this vein so that health insurance companies, policymakers, and non-profit organizations will better know how to provide more effective healthcare to both incarcerated and non-incarcerated individuals in the future. Unfortunately, I felt as though Kronis’ paper read very much like a pro-con list, in that she simply explained what worked about telemedicine and mHealth and what needed to be improved. It would have been more illuminating had she also considered the fundamental issues behind the applications of these technologies, and perhaps what could be done to better them in the future. I also felt that the theoretical lens employed with the Foucault, while certainly interesting, did not really come up much, so I would have preferred either if had been taken out or if it had factored more greatly into the subject matter. Finally, while I thought that the discussions of both communities were compelling, I wished greater connections between them – wish is what Kronis had set out to explore – were ultimately made. Still, these considerations notwithstanding, Nadya Kronis brings a well-researched, passionate voice into a field that, particularly given the political climate of today, cannot nearly be discussed enough.

Review of “Gerrymandering in Ohio’s 9th District”

Reviewed by Associate Editor Peter Rutkowski

Gerrymandering has long been utilized as an unfair strategy in order for one political party to gain control of a district within a defined region, often creating divisions between people of varying socioeconomic classes or races. Kimberly Hill, in her paper Gerrymandering in Ohio’s 9th District: Ideological Effects, explores this very concept.

Hill begins by discussing how the Republican Party strategically was able to redraw voting lines as a part of the REDMAP project, thus winning state legislatures before the 2012 federal elections. In her paper, however, Hill chooses to look beyond just the causes of gerrymandering; she determines that it’s important to analyze the effects of gerrymandering upon representative ideology. Her literature review discusses the ways in which redistricting affects policy outcomes. It is noted that most of the literature argues that there are “perverse” effects to redistricting and certainly to gerrymandering; however, Hill is careful to point out that some authors argue that majority-minority divisions have even led to more substantive representation for minority voters.

Of course, in this paper’s title is a specific district. Indeed, the author utilizes the Ninth District of Ohio, a district that has been redrawn and modified so much that it is nicknamed the “Snake on a Lake,” to analyze representative ideological shifts. Also, Hill mentions that she chose this specific district because its representative Marcy Kaptur (D) has won incumbency since 1983. And since then, three separate redistricting processes have occurred — in 1990, 2000, and 2010. Using the theories discussed in her literature review, Hill hypothesizes that Kaptur would become more ideologically liberal as her district became increasingly urban or populated with a higher concentration of minorities.

In order to test her theory, the researcher takes a data-driven approach to analyze Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s voting patterns. She uses a table and multiple graphs that summarize the composition of the district in terms of race (black and hispanic are tabled and graphed), medium income, and median age in four-year increments from 1893 to 2017. With this data, Hill discusses potential and theorized voting outcomes that could arise based on the data.

Next, Hill looks at another quantitative factor named the DW NOMINATE score. This measurement analyzes the level of ideological liberalism or conservatism that a representative represents with their voting patterns. Using data plotted on another graph, it’s clear that Representative Kaptur went from voting slightly liberally to more liberally over each election cycle — this could mirror her district’s composition, potentially representing an effect on the ideology of her constituents on her own voting patterns. At the same time, data from the NAACP Rating, the Federation for American Immigration Reform Ratings, the NARAL Pro-Choice America Ratings, the NRA Ratings, and the League of Conservation all suggest either that there was no observable shift in Kaptur’s voting patterns or that Kaptur became more ideologically liberal just on certain issues over time. At the same time, Hill acknowledges that it’s difficult to tell whether or not Kaptur was shifting her voting (at least difficult to determine without speaking to Rep. Hill in person) as a result of a change of her own ideology or as the result of her adjusting in order to secure her incumbency in voting cycles.

In her conclusion, author Kimberly Hill discusses the importance of continuing to research her ideas and theories, perhaps looking at other districts, particularly those where cases of gerrymandering have been investigated. Certainly, she argues, there is a correlation between voting patterns and the ideological makeup of a constituency — its effects on representative ideology just still have yet to be explored more deeply.

A Review of “A New Europe Will Be Born” by Matt Wayland

Reviewed by Associate Editor Matt Wayland


In “A New Europe Will Be Born”, Conor Pfeiffer examines how James Baker, George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of State, served as a key actor during the period of diplomatic maneuvering that precipitated German reunification. Pfeiffer’s goal in the paper is to emphasize Baker’s role in shaping the post-Cold War European security environment, a role which, in Pfeiffer’s opinion, has lacked sufficient analysis and appreciation.

One of paper’s most important elements is that Pfeiffer is able to offer unprecedented access to the “Baker Papers”, a set of Baker’s notes and memorandum that are housed at Princeton University. By incorporating Baker’s shorthand into the essay itself, Pfeiffer is able to both represent how the statesman thought and worked, and demonstrate how he was able to transform broad principles and priorities into concrete diplomatic action.

The paper proceeds chronologically, tracing the major developments during the process of reunification. One important caveat that Pfeiffer points to in his literature review is that reunification itself was not a historical inevitability – thus the emphasis on the individual actors as being responsible for the outcome. Important developments within the heady years of 1989 and 1990 that Pfeiffer points to include the December 1989 speech delivered by Baker in Berlin from which the paper derives its title, the two-plus-four formula that Baker supported and ultimately became instrumental to the final treaty, and the settling of questions about NATO’s eastward expansion. Both bilateral and multilateral negotiations provided different kinds of forums and thus challenges for the American diplomats. Fortunately, within the American decision-making apparatus itself, centralization and cooperation facilitated success. Pfeiffer notes that the National Security Council enjoyed an amicable relationship with Baker’s State Department that allowed for coherent American leadership in rapidly changing world.

Despite Pfeiffer’s extensive research and engaging retelling of history, the paper is not without its shortcomings. In its effort to establish Baker as the central player in the drama of reunification, the paper has an understandable tendency to narrowly lionize Baker at the expense of a more balanced and academic approach. Despite the paper’s best efforts, it still feels impossible to envision harmonious German reunification without the dynamic leadership of West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl or Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev. Nevertheless, for foreign policy wonks and those interested in contemporary history, Pfeiffer’s cogent analysis definitely holds interest. Moreover, it provides a model for the kind of transformative outcomes that intelligible and reasoned American foreign policy can yield at a present moment increasingly defined by its opposite.




Planning Mass Transit – a Review

Reviewed by Associate Editor Connor Haseley

In “The Politics of Urban Transport Planning in Ahmedabad, India,” Austin Crouse examines how the framing of problems of urban transport along statistical lines relates to the failure of many mass transit projects to reduce private vehicle travel, and further how such framing contributes to inequality and lack of inclusivity of poor people. Focusing on the city of Ahmedabad, India, a city often cited as an example of progressive urban planning, Crouse uses discourse analysis to examine how the planning and development of the Indian city is oriented around the needs of the middle class and upper class at the expense of the poorest.

Crouse starts by introducing the Indian city as a city plagued by pollution, one in which sprawl has developed unchecked and is no longer concentrated around transportation infrastructure. He introduces the theory of transport-oriented development — which attempts to reduce reliance on motorized transport by reducing the distance between home, work, and public transit — in order to criticize it for its inconsideration of feedback effects and its lack of community engagement. He posits that Indian cities must be planned such that exiting preferences for non-motorized transport are maintained, criticizing Ahmedabad’s internationally renowned bus rapid transit system for not doing this.

Crouse notes that since 1991 the Indian central government has poured more resources into cities, examining specifically a 2015 urban renewal project tasked with creating ‘smart cities’. He problematizes this development by critiquing the principles of sustainability which underlie ‘smart city’ projects by saying that increased modal choice does not necessarily mean increased mobility, and that high fares mean increased modal choice would not serve the poor and would hamper pedestrian infrastructure.

Crouse introduces his theoretical underpinnings most cogently in the literature review, where he references urban planning as a ‘wicked problem,’ whereby the solution favored by each actor is determined by the type of actor (engineer, community activist, politician, etc.) and the frameworks through which each actor sees urban planning. Crouse’s argument itself is an example of how frameworks beget solutions — his framing of urban planning as a ‘wicked problem’ leads directly to his solution: communication between different actors and incorporation of all perspectives, as opposed to privileging the scientific-technical lexical framework which Crouse shows has become dominant in Indian urban planning. He links the unplanned and vibrant communities at the edge of the underused ‘top-down’ modernist cities of Brasilia and Changigarh with the ‘top-down’ style of many recent Indian urban development projects, both of which pose significant inclusivity problems for poor and marginalized communities. Crouse ends the literature review by identifying the discourse-coalitions which form around terms such as ‘sustainable development’ and ‘eco-modernity’ with the problematic discourse of scientific-technical modernization.

Finally, Crouse introduces his specific study of Ahmedabad, explaining that he conducted interviews with 36 people broken down into academics, government officials, consultants, and civil society workers, and used political discourse analysis. He finds two discourse-coalitions, one in which government officials rely on authoritarian methods to implement high modernist designs, and one in which the other three groups coalesce around ecological modernism, though he complicates this by stressing the unwillingness to communicate between groups. Though he makes some differentiations between the four groups, he stresses that each of the four focus on top-down solutions which appeal to discourses of modernization. He details the fracture between civil society actors which use scientific-technical language and those which do not, castigating the former for not endorsing participatory approaches.

After a historically situated critique of the international institutionalization of inflexible high-modernist approaches to urban planning which Crouse says are unsuited to Ahmedabad, Crouse once again criticizes the lack of inclusion of marginalized communities and even civil society groups in the development of ‘smart cities’ throughout India, focusing on the negative effects of the displacement inevitable caused by capital-intensive megaprojects. He concludes by once again associating eco-modernism with the faults of high-modernism, and emphasizes how these narratives exclude civil society organizations advocating for inclusive planning. He ends with the hope that new and inclusive discourse-coalitions can be built around the goals decentralization and localization of power, using the visual aspects of displacement as a reminder that current urban development schemes cannot capture the world in an algorithm.

A few points of criticism for this paper: It often changes in scope within specific sections: although his on-the-ground research focused solely on actors in Ahmedabad, Crouse often goes back and forth between points specific to Ahmedabad, points specific to India, and points general to urban theory, such that the paper’s strongest aspect, the collection of data, appears secondary. Crouse often does not directly link Ahmedabad to the theories he cites. Further, Crouse’s distrust of scientific-technical language and planning is not as well-founded or as well-stated as it could be — on the one hand he acknowledges the role of scientific expertise, while at the same time blaming the lexical gap between technical and non-technical actors for the lack of inclusivity. Additionally, Crouse’s pro arguments for participatory development, pedestrian infrastructure, alternatives to displacement, and the like, are often more implicit than explicit. Nowhere does he lay out a full theoretical justification for why participatory development, for example, is good in and of itself along with its accompanying lexicon, nor does he explicitly cite the work of other urban theorists. Lastly, his selective use of data was made weaker by lack of context: changes in population density and private vehicle use do not happen in a vacuum, and solely blaming urban planning for trends which have multiple causes without explicitly acknowledging that fact runs the risk of reifying the all-powerful conception of the state which Crouse explicitly argues against in his critique of high-modernism and the arrogance of urban planners. That said, this paper is a strong piece of critique which effectively shows how urban politics function in Ahmedabad, and Crouse’s persistent focus on marginalized communities is a well-centered avenue of problematization of urban narratives which unfortunately predominate in too many places.

A Summary of “Music, Revolution, and Censorship” by Nathalia Santos

Reviewed by Associate Editor Sunny Chen

Samba, MPB, and funk are genres of music that were criminalized and repressed in Brazil during its authoritarian regime in the early 20th century. They were created by lower-class Brazilians.   Brazilian music under the authoritarian and militaristic regime is loosely categorized into three forms.  Some artists avoided political themes and created music influenced by American soft rock about love and innocent concerns.  Protesters like MPB musicians made music that was openly contemptuous of the military.  More extreme activists used performance art and wild lyrics and allusions to attack commercialism, populist politics, and American individualism.  The paper explores the history of samba, MPB, and funk; how it was suppressed and why it was valued.

Samba originated in Africa and related to the slave trade.  It was bloomed in the intercity Brazil.  Because it was associated with “inferior culture,” the racist government tried to suppress the music by forbidding use of percussion instruments, arresting sambistas, and regulating the when and where people could meet to play samba.  Samba was used as a symbol of Getulio Vargas’ nationalist project to bring cultural homogeneity to Brazil.  Popular music emerged in the 1950s as radio and television became more accessible. Now Samba is a considered a central part of Brazilian identity and is appreciated around the world.

MPB emerged later than samba, in response to the Brazilian politics.  It is known as the genre of protest songs.  Since 1930, Brazil experienced much political turmoil as the President was ousted in 1960 and the military began to play an increasingly dominant role in the economic, financial, and political reconstruction of Brazil. Repressed of MPB was heaviest under the dictatorship pf Costa e Silva in 1968.  As the MPB and samba were both intertwined with protest and class struggle, many artists were sentenced to prison, torture and death alongside union leaders, journalists and politicians, and religious groups.  Anyone who threatened the government was in danger of being captured. In order to play music, artists had to send their music to the Public Entertainment and Censorship Department who rejected anything deemed “morally degrading” or politically dissenting.  Since Brazil has a history of “moral censorship,” the department had a lot of public support.  Artists found a way of expressing their dissent by performing on university campuses and at TV festivals.

The funk emerged in the 1970’s and was inspired by the African American music.  Like samba, it was disparaged because of racism towards blacks.  When the Miami Bass was introduced to Brazil in the 1980s, the funk became more empowered and upbeat and included increasingly strong themes about drugs, violence, poverty, and criminality in Rio de Janeiro.  Funk was outlawed because of the musicians’ association with the drug trade movement to prevent violence and drug abuse in young people.  Indeed, funk was explicit about sex and violence, however the music also became a way to empower poor kids and women.

Santos concludes that the criminalization of these genres did not have a moral objective, as the government claimed, but was rather a way to silence the poor and marginalized who were creating a way to subvert and question the social order. The censorship cast the blame of drug abuse and poverty upon the very artists who were protesting the social structure that has forced them into crime-ridden environments.  However now, samba and MPB are celebrated and taught in schools.  This is because in order to control dissent, the Brazilian government ultimately realized that harsher regulations would not only be ineffective, but potentially counterproductive.  Thus, they reclaimed the rhythms of samba and MPB, making it a part of Brazilian identity and stripping it of its subversive quality.


Read the full paper here!

Nationalism in the Arab Spring: Expression, Effects on Transitions, and Implications for the Middle East State

Reviewed by Iris Aikaterini Frangou

The focus of Danielle Bella Ellison’s paper “Nationalism in the Arab Spring: Expression, Effects on Transitions, and Implications for the Middle East State; A Comparative Analysis of Egypt and Libya” is on nationalism; in particular she examines whether the status of a state as a nation-state or not is a central factor to the determination of the viability of a country, following a period of political disruption and regime fracture.

The author engages in a comparative analysis of Egypt and Libya, two countries in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa), which display vastly divergent levels of nationalism, to show how nationalism contributed to the determination of their trajectories following the eruption of the Arab Spring. The contrasting levels of nationalism are primarily manifested through the discourse of uprisings, the cleavages that came into being and have become more pronounced over the respective transitional periods along with the demands by key actors, and finally, the violence and the future of the states, accordingly. These three domains constitute the three hypotheses that Ellison formulates in her paper as mechanisms for basing and carrying out her comparative analysis. The hypotheses are consistent with the existing literature on nationalism in the Arab Spring and more generally, on the role of nationalism in political transitions.

More specifically, the first hypothesis through which Ellison’s investigation on Egypt and Libya begins is on the discourse of the uprisings. It examines how mobilization takes place and where identity becomes evident and then crucial to this process of political mobilization. The second hypothesis that Ellison makes, on cleavages and demands, focuses on the intermediate steps involved in transitions and in particular, on the manner in which political, social, and military groups join or separate to confront the power vacuum generated by the collapse of an old regime and to establish a new governing order. The third and final hypothesis, on violence and the future of the state, engages with existent literature in reflecting upon the long-term vivacity of a post-revolution state under several circumstances, on whether the establishment of a new stable government is probable, and upon whether the violence which has been produced as a result of the transition process is likely to abate or escalate, and subsequently endanger the future trajectory of the country.

The author’s investigation concludes that the independent variable of the existence or non-existence of nationalism in a given country will, through the three mechanisms outlined above, impact the dependent variable regarding the likelihood of a country undergoing conflict and even separation. As Ellison demonstrates however, her findings are not solely specific to Egypt and Libya but can be generalized in revealing the role of nationalism in the Arab Spring overall.

Read the full paper here!

Black Wombs, White Babies: The Racial Biopolitics of the Illinois Gestational Surrogacy Act

Reviewed by Ryan Joel

In “Black Wombs, White Babies: The Racial Biopolitics of the Illinois Gestational Surrogacy Act,” Kenni Zellner explores a state law passed in Illinois to regulate gestational surrogacy, analyzing its connections to racism in reproduction in the United States.  The argument Zellner undertakes is a daunting one.  As she recognizes in her analysis, the Illinois Gestational Surrogacy Act (IGSA) is nominally unrelated to race.  It’s simply a law that seeks to explicitly define parenthood in gestational surrogacy, in which the sperm and egg are supplied by a couple, and the surrogate is used only to carry the fetus.  Unlike traditional surrogacy, in which the surrogate carries the fetus and supplies the egg, the gestational surrogate has absolutely no genetic ties to the baby.  The main goal of the IGSA is to ensure that the biological parents of a child—that is, the couple who donated the egg and the sperm—retain legal custody of the child.  If a gestational surrogate were to change her mind in the course of the pregnancy, most judges would rule in favor of the biological parents.  The IGSA codifies that typical ruling and further provides details of what can and cannot be included in gestational surrogacy contracts.

Zellner’s chief argument is that the implementation of this act fits in with a broader American pattern of overvaluing white lives at the expense of black lives.  Zellner first establishes the history of the development of fertility treatments and surrogacy technologies, including that most demand for fertility treatment and surrogacy comes from whites.  She also asserts that American public policy has a history of discouraging black reproduction.

She then applies the Foucauldian concept of biopolitics to this issue to further develop her argument.  Zellner summarizes biopolitics as such: “Biopolitics wants always to produce more and more life, but biopolitics also wants to optimize life, to make life longer, cleaner, and healthier.”  A racist form of this “optimization,” Zellner asserts, is the desire to promote white life over black life.  The IGSA encourages gestational surrogacy by guaranteeing parenthood for the sperm and egg donors, so Zellner concludes that the act contributes to biopolitical racism because it (1) encourages more white reproduction and does so in using black women’s bodies, because it (2) deters black surrogates from raising the white children of gestational surrogacy.

Zellner’s undertaking is certainly unique, and her arguments have a lot of nuance that is best understood by reading the entire article.