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Vol 7 No 2: September issue

The stakes of (not) knowing: Motherhood, disability, and prenatal diagnostics in Jordan

  • Christine Sargent
December 5, 2018
June 16, 2020


This article draws on the concept of subjunctivity to explore how conditions of uncertainty, experimentation, and refusal shape the lives of women raising children with Down syndrome in Amman, Jordan. The connections that women forge – as mothers of children with Down syndrome – enable them to imagine new possibilities for their families and their futures across boundaries of class and circumstance. Prenatal diagnosis, however, invites possibilities of a different kind, challenging established models for divine creation, human agency, and moral accountability. As women reflect on what they would have done if they had known about their child’s Down syndrome in utero, they reason themselves to different conclusions. Yet their interest in the question itself reveals how, even in its absence, prenatal diagnosis circulates as a technology of subjunctivity, conjuring multiple possible pasts, presents, and futures.