Complicating (Un-)Comfortable Alliances in the Brave New World of Reproduction

Authors: Carolin Schurr*, University of St Gallen, Elisabeth Militz*, University of St. Gallen
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Gender, Sexuality
Keywords: reproductive geographies, feminist geographies, global intimate, bodies, intersectionality
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Studio 9, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Surrogacy and genital cosmetic surgery have turned into minefields for feminist activism and research (Parry 2015; Schurr/Perler 2015). While some consider medical technologies to overcome social and medical infertility and restore virginity as important steps to empowerment, self-determination and the deconstruction of heteronormative ideals of reproduction (Ahmadi 2015; Lustenberger 2016; Nebeling Petersen 2016; Wild et al. 2015), others highlight the exploitative, coercive and patriarchal character of these technologies and their marketization (Ballantyne 2014; Christianson and Eriksson 2015; Orfali/Chiappori 2014; Raymond 1993). Unusual alliances emerge when left-wing feminists and conservative Catholics unite in Europe to fight against surrogacy (Momigliano 2017), business-hungry surrogacy agencies in Mexico stage themselves as defenders of gay rights (https://www.caresurrogacy.com/lgbt-family-building/) or male medical practitioners promote their services for genital surgery as “empowerment” for women (Sciolino and Mekhennet 2008). Through an intersectional analysis, we complicate the complicities and alliances as well as fault lines and contradictions between feminist, queer and neoliberal politics in the field of medically assisted reproduction and its transnational economy. We call for the need of an intersectional analysis that connects the intimate experiences of differently marked and situated bodies with the globally operating economic forces behind these new bodily markets as a way to complicate these (un-)comfortable alliances. Looking as “feminist killjoys” (Ahmed 2017) on the fast-growing market of surrogacy and hymenoplasty, we reveal the often invisible and thoroughly entangled forms of capitalism, racism, sexism, heteronormativity and homophobia inhabiting the global intimate spaces of fertility clinics, surrogacy agencies, medical practices and operation theaters.

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