Cornelia Goethe Centrum

Amrita Pande (University of Cape Town): Wombs in Labour and the Paradox of Surrogacy in India


Achtung! Die Veranstaltung findet an einem Donnerstag statt und im SH 5.101

The focus of the lecture is the analysis of a fundamental paradox of commercial surrogacy – wherein a market that literally produces humans and human relationships is critically dependent on the maintenance of a global racial reproductive hierarchy. To understand the booming market of surrogacy in India we have to situate it within its rather contradictory reproductive history – the postcolonial state agenda of aggressive antinatalism at home coupled with the neo-liberal imperative of unrestrained fertility choices. This national agenda resonates with a broader global population control program that frames the high fertility rates of countries in the global south as a “global danger” that needs to be controlled at whatever cost. At one level, the womb-mothers (surrogates) subvert these hegemonic discourses by taking control over their bodies and using their fertile bodies “productively”. At another level, as they align their own reproduction through decisions about fertility, sterilization and abortion, in order to (re)produce children of higher classes and privileged nations, they ultimately conform to this global imperative of reducing the fertility of lower class women in the global south. Despite these global structural inequalities surrogates’ creatively construct kinship ties with the baby and the intended mother. These ties cross boundaries based on class, caste and religion and sometimes even race and nation.

Kommentar: Ursula Apitzsch, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt

Amrita Pande is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at University of Cape Town. Her research focuses on the intersection of globalization and the intimate. Besides academic publications, she has also written for national newspapers across the globe. She is also an educator-performer touring the world with a multi-media docu-drama, Made in India: Notes from a Baby Farm (2012). She is currently leading a large research project exploring the “global fertility flows”, of eggs, sperms, embryos and wombs, connecting the world in unexpected ways.

Vortragssprache: Englisch