Mimi Sheller

Center for Mobility Studies

Drexel University, USA

Bringing Mobilities and Reproduction into Dialogue: New Theoretical Insights and Research Possibilities

Dr. Sheller plays a key role in steering the theoretical direction of this workshop by providing commentary on the individual presentations and the workshop overall with respect to the application of critical mobilities theory to issues of reproduction. She will pull together the various threads of discussion and themes that interweave between the presenters' talks and situate the issues, places, and spaces that emerge into conversation with "the mobilities turn." She will bring help to bring critical reproduction studies into conversation with critical mobilities studies and, in so doing, set the foundation for new theoretical insights into how both movement and stasis matter in the doing of and the imagining of reproductive practices in the contemporary world.


Michal Nahman

Faculty of Health & Social Care

University of West of England, UK

Configurations of Cross-Border Reproduction: Gender@TheBorder

Following Haraway's (1991) call for a Manifesto for Cyborgs, where truer stories of reproduction, gender and race are told through creation of feminist myths, STS scholar/anthropologist Lucy Suchman's method/concept of 'configuration' relates to studies of technology and society. What if we take this approach to thinking through the relationship between migration and reproduction in the contemporary era? In the study of cross-border reproduction we have an opportunity to theorise 'the border' as a configuration of technologies and subjectivities. The relationship between the border, race, class and gender can be explored in greater depth, reflecting on the ways in which the border is a technology of stratification. What happens to gender@the border? What are the implications for feminist politics and theory? In this keynote Dr. Nahman draws on her current research on egg provision in Europe, to think through what happens when migrant women workers get transformed into a 'figure' of an 'egg provider/donor' in scholarly work, and in policy, medicine and to themselves?

PARTICIPANTS (alphabetically)

Jaime Cidro


University of Winnipeg




Sue Frohlick

Community, Culture & Global Studies

University of British Columbia, Okanagan

Repatriating Birth to First Nation Communities in Canada

Destination Pregnancy: Moved to Conceive, Naturally

While the draw of affordable and accessible reproductive technologies in the global south providing fertility and procreative solutions for consumers in the global north has been well documented, the draw of non-medically assisted reproduction has not yet received much attention. ARTs can be thought of as reproduction outcomes which set off mobilities, that is, seekers of ART travel to locales where reproductive care service is available. But mobilities also set off or mobilize reproduction; more specifically, travel to particular destinations affect ideas around conception, pregnancy, childbearing, and kinship. This paper looks at Costa Rica through the lens of reproductive mobilities to raise questions about links between destination imaginaries and reproductive imaginaries. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, stories of never imagining having children are situated in narratives about a place where it is possible to conceive naturally. Here, place moves or mobilizes the championing of natural conception over assisted reproduction technologies. What are the feminist implications of such scenarios, for example, in relation to public outrage over pregnant migrants?

Heather Latimer

Gender and Women’s Studies
University of British Columbia, Okanagan

Migrating Futures: Cinematic representations of pregnant migrants

This paper will contribute to research and scholarship at the intersection of critical reproduction studies and critical mobility studies by considering how cinematic representations of reproduction-- as desire or imperative-- affect and animate ideas about the ethics of human mobility. Using the 2011 Italian film,Terraferma, as a case study, Heather Latimer will consider how and why pregnancy "works" as the basis for a narrative drive towards a different or better political future for the migrant, despite facing poverty, racism, and statelessness. It is Latimer's contention that pregnancy storylines not only contribute to national and post-national fantasies of belonging, but also reveal that reproductive politics are always an integral part of

migration politics.

Kristin Lozanski


King’s University College at Western University

Mobilizing Mobility: Chinese birth tourism in Canada

Birth tourism is most often understood as the travel of pregnant women to a country for the purposes of delivering a child who will have access to the destination country's citizenship by virtue of jus soli citizenship policies. In Canada, birth tourism is not illegal, but it has come under scrutiny because of the ways birth tourists subvert governmental control over citizenship. Analyses of Chinese-language birth tourism websites reveal that this specific mobility event must be considered in a broader program of global mobilities. Mobilities both facilitate and derive from participation in birth tourism: Those who can access Canadian citizenship via birth tourism are already kinetic elite, a position that is not enabled but enhanced by their child's citizenship. This paper also examines the Canadian resistance to these forms of mobility

Kelsey Marr

Community, Culture & Global Studies

University of British Columbia Okanagan

Reproductive Futures, Middle Class Mobility, and Border Crossing under the Costa Rican anti-IVF Regime

Kelsey Marr will advance some of the findings from her MA thesis on reproductive futures and how university students consider the idea of reproductive technologies as a means to resolve their fertility issues related to "delaying" reproduction for later in life. Using Costa Rica as a unique context for "imagined reproductive futures" because as of 2013 it was the only country in the world where IVF was fully banned, her doctoral research will examine the complex linkages between class, citizenship, border crossing, dwelling/immobilization, and reproductive futurity (how the future is imagined) in the shifting socio-legal landscape.

Sayani Mitra

Medical Ethics & History of Medicine

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany

Between Altruism and Commerce: Market Re-adjustments and the Stakes of Altruistic Surrogacy in India

Transnational surrogacy has been the most talked about assisted reproductive technology due to the legal, ethical and social implications of cross-cultural fertility travel. The rapidly changing legal landscape has come to restrict access to commercial surrogacy for commissioners, based on citizenship, nationality, race, sexuality, marital status etc. With the major commercial surrogacy destinations like India, Thailand, Nepal and Mexico closing down for 'foreigners', 'altruistic' surrogacy is now a prevalent choice. Based on ethnographic research conducted in India, Sayani shows how 'altruism' keeps the surrogacy industry mobile. Yet 'altruistic' arrangements make the surrogates further precarious and give rise to undocumented and informal 'market' transactions. Taking the example from countries like the UK and Canada and comparing it with India, she argues that given the diverse legal scenario of different countries, murky transactions in the garb of altruism often becomes a likely scenario, which keeps the markets mobile but is likely to further stratify reproduction.

Lesley Murray

School of Applied Social Science University of Brighton, UK

Living the mobile and geopolitical landscape of migrations for abortion from Ireland (north and south) to the UK

This emerging transdisciplinary project draws from scholarship at the intersections of migration, mobilities and cultural history, where the movements of people, objects, and ideologies are necessarily bound up in geopolitical and historical landscapes at local and global scales. The project will challenge conceptualisations of ‘migrants’ as ‘exceptional’ (Hui 2016) by considering the complex everyday and migratory mobilities of people who are ‘sometimes-migrant’ (Ibid.); in this case women who engage in temporary migrations for abortion, travelling from Ireland (both north and south) to the British mainland (Rossitor 2009). Through examination of existing documentary records and oral ‘mobility’ histories the project will focus on subjectivity and ‘lived experience’ (Abrams 2010; Gluck and Patai 1991; Urry 2007) within the broader geopolitical context of migrating for abortion. The methodology will draw from feminist approaches, adopting document analysis, oral history and ‘mobilities’ readings (Murray and Vincent 2014) of existing accounts, in firstly exploring existing account and then the ways in which everyday practices of mobility are generated and changed over time through emotional and affective experiences of risk, fear and shame.

Amy Speier


University of Texas at Arlington

North American surrogate cultural, economic and geographic mobility incited by cross-border reproductive care

North American surrogate cultural, economic and geographic mobility incited by cross-border reproductive care Articles like "Inside India's Rent-a-Womb Business," focused on the fact that Indian surrogates stayed in dormitories during the course of their pregnancies. It was precisely their immobility that feminists decried exploitation. North American surrogates are strikingly different from the images presented of surrogates in India. In fact, when North American surrogates cycle for international intended parents, they become more mobile. Many scholars have focused on the mobility of intended parents who travel seeking assisted reproductive technologies. This paper will focus on the cultural, economic and geographic mobility of North American surrogates, which results from their reproductive abilities.

Andrea Whittaker


Monash University, Australia

Disruptive Surrogacy in South-east Asia

An aggressively marketed model of surrogacy emerged in Asisa; first in India, then travelling across to Thailand, Nepal, and, more recently, Cambodia and Laos. This model of commercial surrogacy was “disruptive,” with a number of characteristics in common with other post-Fordist disruptive industries. It superseded older, more bespoke forms of commercial surrogacy arrangements and created mass availability, rapid accessibility, and new demands for surrogacy services. This paper describes the features of this disruptive surrogacy and introduces the intended parents, surrogates, and companies involved. In response to the closure of commercial surrogacy in some settings, new destinations have emerged and new forms of hybrid arrangements in which gametes, embryos, surrogates and staff cross borders to circumvent legal restrictions. I argue that the organization and practices of this disruptive surrogacy model create differential vulnerabilities for these enmeshed within its re/production logic: the intented parents, surrogates and children.

Angela Yu

History of Science, Medicine & Technology

University of Oxford, UK

Forbidden Futures: Egg Freezing and Single Women in China

This paper interrogates the recent emergence of transnational egg freezing practices

among single women in China. Since unmarried women are denied access to this new form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) under China’s family planning policy, some have

elected to have the procedure performed abroad, namely in the US and Japan, since it became available in the last five years. Given the historical association of ART with heterosexual marriage in the West, its global alliance with single women in the 21st century is not entirely intuitive. This paper briefly traces the history of the scientific development of egg freezing, and its real and imagined users, to situate ongoing debates regarding egg freezing and single Chinese women. It argues that the language of consumption, commerce and control that underpins discourses on this emerging phenomenon in print and online media is distinctly embedded within shifting anxieties regarding gender, sexuality and family in China – and the west’s fascination therewith – in a period of intensified global mobility and exchange for bodies and capital alike.

Reproductive Mobilities 2018