Good Quality (Paperback)

The Routinization of Sperm Banking in China

By Ayo Wahlberg

University of California Press, 9780520297784, 248pp.

Publication Date: April 3, 2018

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (4/3/2018)

List Price: 34.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


From its crude and uneasy beginnings thirty years ago, Chinese sperm banking has become a routine part of China’s pervasive and restrictive reproductive complex. Today, there are sperm banks in each of China’s twenty-two provinces, the biggest of which screen some three thousand to four thousand potential donors each year. Given the estimated one to two million azoospermic men--those who are unable to produce their own sperm--the demand remains insatiable. China’s twenty-two sperm banks cannot keep up, spurring sperm bank directors to publicly lament chronic shortages and even warn of a national ‘sperm crisis’ (jingzi weiji).
Good Quality explores the issues behind the crisis, including declining sperm quality in the country due to environmental pollution, as well as a chronic national shortage of donors. In doing so, Wahlberg outlines the specific style of Chinese sperm banking that has emerged, shaped by the particular cultural, juridical, economic and social configurations that make up China’s restrictive reproductive complex. Good Quality shows how this high-throughput style shapes the ways in which men experience donation and how sperm is made available to couples who can afford it.

About the Author

Ayo Wahlberg is Professor MSO in the Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen. He is coeditor of Selective Reproduction in the Twenty-First Century and Southern Medicine for Southern People: Vietnamese Medicine in the Making.

Praise For Good Quality: The Routinization of Sperm Banking in China

"Good Quality, a detailed study of state-controlled sperm banking in China, is a wonderful contribution to a literature that understands birth planning in China as encompassing a wide set of practices. . . . This volume should appeal to scholars of reproduction and those who study China’s modernizing processes. Its accessible writing will make it available to both graduate and undergraduate students."

— Social Forces

"...Ayo Wahlberg provides a rich and fine-grained ethnographic account of assisted reproduction in China, focusing on how state population politics and sociocultural configurations have shaped the practice of sperm banking. . . . Good Quality makes a significant contribution to anthropological studies of assisted reproduction, science and technology studies, and studies of China’s reproductive politics."

— Medical Anthropology Quarterly