EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010


Reproductive tourism: imaginative responses to crises of infertility and health care systems?

Location Arts Classhall D
Date and Start Time 27 Aug, 2010 at 11:30


Eva-Maria Knoll (Austrian Academy of Sciences) email
Amy Speier (Eckerd College) email
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Long Abstract

During the last few decades, as Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) have exploded onto the scene, anthropologists have responded with critical examinations of how these technologies have enabled new hope as well as further medicalized health care for women. ARTs have spread throughout the globe, and anthropologists have shown how their use is locally interpreted, defined and regulated in varying ways depending on cultural, national and regional understandings of kinship, nationhood, and biology. Patient demand for ARTs has not dwindled since their advent, and women and men are seeking new ways to "consume" these global technologies.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century the use of reproductive technologies is characterized by multiple layers of crises: the crisis of infertility which is accompanied by a crisis of legality/illegality, a crisis of consumer models of medical care, and a crisis of lack of health care. Patients who face a number of these crises often travel for reproductive health care. Their travel affords them new opportunities, less restrictions, and "hope technologies". At the same time, doctors and clinics are imagining new ways to meet these growing demands.

This workshop will assemble crisis-ridden roots and imaginary driven routes of reproductive tourism. By bringing together scholars who exemplify the push and pull factors of reproductive travel in different geographical regions and contexts, the workshop will provide comparative insights into the socio-cultural dynamics of fertility patient mobility. Workshop contributors are called upon to reflect upon multiple ways patients and providers circumvent crises through new imaginaries and practices.

Discussant: Jeanette Edwards

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.


American reproductive tourists in the Czech Republic: seeking lower costs and anonymity

Author: Amy Speier (Eckerd College)  email
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Long Abstract

Reproductive tourism has grown as one of the main forms of medical tourism. American tourists are especially interested in more affordable treatments, since treatments in the United States are not covered by insurance. It is important, however, to remember that decisions to travel for health care go well beyond purely economic terms.

The question remains: Why is the Czech Republic a common destination site for Americans? What factors lead people to choose the Czech Republic over other low cost locations? This paper will characterize tourist motivations for choosing the Czech Republic, by analyzing data derived from ethnographic research. It will be important to elicit whether reproductive travelers feel they have escaped a potentially threatening confrontation over parental rights by traveling abroad for donation. The results of this research will provide a case study of reproductive tourism in a post-socialist Czech context.

Infertility and ARTs in a globalising India: medicalisation, ethics, agency

Author: Maya Unnithan (University of Sussex)  email
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Long Abstract

The paper draws on Sen's capability framework for health equity and the idea of Assisted Reproductive Technologies as 'global assemblages' (Ong and Collier)to discuss the crises of reproductive ethics in India. Focussing on ethnographic work on the agency of infertile women and couples in western India, as well as those women who provide surrogacy services to infertile couples from abroad, the paper discusses the implications and limitations of state and medical regulation. The paper emphasises the significance of taking into account the local moral worlds of the infertile, as a means to imagine a contextually based ethics.

'My foreign baby is growing inside me': the case of Italians seeking donated gametes outside national borders

Author: Giulia Zanini (University of Padova)  email
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Long Abstract

Cross-border reproductive care ("reproductive tourism"), constitutes an increasing phenomenon in the whole world. People take advantage of the existence of different legislations in different countries and make strategic choices leading to transnational movements with the goal of fulfilling their procreative plans and overcome national legal restrictions on ART. In particular, free and easy movements across European countries make this possibility a real option for European citizens.

This paper will present the case of Italians seeking reproductive treatments which imply the reception of donated gametes and embryos outside national borders. After a brief introduction about Italian law on ART (law 40/ 2004), forbidding donation of reproductive material, the paper will expose the socio-economic issues linked to this phenomenon, the motives that lead Italian patients to choose specific countries and discuss how these choices and transnational experiences question their understandings of procreation and kinship and challenge the notion of "legitimate procreation" both at institutional and individual level.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.