Introduction: IVF Sojourns
Although “reproductive tourism” has been used by scholars and media pundits to describe reproductive travel across national and international borders, the term “tourism” is challenged as the appropriate descriptor for IVF-related travel. “Reproductive travel” is preferred by those seeking IVF, so the contraction “reprotravel” is adopted throughout this book. This chapter examines the extent of global reprotravel, particularly to countries such as India and Thailand, which are developing their medical tourism infrastructures. The Middle East, too, hosts several “reprohubs” in major cities such as Beirut, Tehran, and Dubai. The author recounts her own ethnographic forays into Middle Eastern IVF clinics in several countries, where she met hundreds of traveling infertile couples. However, in Dubai, she encounters an entire world of reproduction in motion, meeting “reprotravelers” from fifty countries and five continents. To understand the magnitude and contours of this global reprotravel, the author introduces five key concepts in the introduction: global reproductive assemblage, reproscapes, reproflows, arenas of constraint, and reprotravel stories. Reprotravel stories throughout the ethnography highlight both the desperation and aspiration of infertile couples, who feel forced to travel from home countries to the “reprohub” of Dubai.