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Title: No strings attached : the expanding frontiers of low-cost transnational surrogacy
Author: Luik, Elo
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 5657
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis is about global low-cost surrogacy markets in India and beyond. It explores the so far largely unexamined role of intermediaries, mostly fertility doctors and international facilitators, in efforts to turn surrogacy into a streamlined industry and avoid regulation. In Part I, I analyse how industry practice and discourse is aimed at reducing surrogate women to their reproductive capacity as wombs and cutting them off from potential relationships with the babies or the intended parents. This discussion incorporates a critical examination of surrogacy as a part of the category of bioeconomies. I argue that while attempts to reduce the surrogate to a reproductive body make commercial surrogacy appear as a union of biology, technology and capitalism, the efforts needed to contain the potential for emotion, intimacy and relationships in surrogacy show its embeddedness also within economies of care. Part II traces the low-cost surrogacy industry's transformation after it's ban in India. It underlines the way the depersonalisation and control of surrogate women that I describe in Part I allows the industry to set up quickly in new destinations, and even move pregnant surrogates across national borders to avoid becoming subject to regulation. In the final chapter I identify in the representations of surrogacy doctors and international facilitators a discourse of entitlement to carry on providing surrogacy service despite criticism and regulation. Within this discourse, professionals see their work not as problematic but as reproductive activism of helping discriminated groups achieve parenthood while providing low-income women with the choice to lift themselves out of poverty. Overall, the thesis argues that attempts to curb low-cost surrogacy only through criminalisation are unlikely to succeed due to the ability of the industry to control surrogate women, move quickly between countries and perpetuate a discourse of surrogacy as a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Supervisor: Parkin, Robert ; Qureshi, Kaveri Sponsor: Wolfson College ; Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anthropology