The increasing demand for human egg cells has led to reproductive tourism and a transnational egg trade. The activity flourishes due to poverty and criminality, as well as medical needs (infertility) and cultural needs (the dream of parenthood). Other factors are fundamental concepts, such as the view of the body as an object of utility and value. This article aims to go behind the normative discussions that usually surround different forms of assisted reproductive technology (ART), fertility tourism, and the egg trade. It further calls for an understanding of how the local, culturally embedded use of reproductive technology is put into practice. The material, collected from Sweden, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, consists of observations, in-depth interviews, reports from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and authorities in these countries, and global media reporting. I also draw on my previous research on reproductive technology and ongoing organ-trafficking fieldwork.
“I Want a Baby; Don't Stop Me from Being a Mother”: An Ethnographic Study on Fertility Tourism and Egg Trade
Susanne Lundin is a professor of ethnology in the Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Sweden. Her main research areas are cultural analysis of medical praxis with regard to new regenerative medicine such as IVF, stem cell research, and transplantations. She has published a number of essays and books on these subjects, including “The Threatened Sperm: Parenthood in the Age of Biomedicine,” in Kinship, Gender, and the New Reproductive Technologies: The Beginning of the End, edited by Linda Stone (2000); Gene Technology and Economy, coauthored with Lynn Åkesson (2002); and “Organ Economy: Organ Trafficking in Moldova and Israel,” Public Understanding of Science (2010).
Susanne Lundin; “I Want a Baby; Don't Stop Me from Being a Mother”: An Ethnographic Study on Fertility Tourism and Egg Trade. Cultural Politics 1 July 2012; 8 (2): 327–344. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-1575192
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