Global Fertility Chains

October 4, 2019

Global Fertility Chains is a collaborative research project, initiated by Siggie Vertommen, that analyses the political economy of the (assisted) reproductive practices, policies, markets and infrastructures through a network or chain-based approach. It follows the global trajectories of egg cells, sperm, embryos, wombs, breast milk, surrogates, egg cell providers, intended parents, fertility doctors, fertility brokers as they travel across discursive (imaginaries, discourses, narratives, etc) and material (territorial, bodily, molecular, etc) borders to make babies, families and profit.

Collaborators

Siggie Vertommen

Siggie Vertommen

Siggie Vertommen is a feminist researcher and organizer.

She is currently working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Conflict and Development Studies at Ghent University and she is also affiliated with the Reproduction of Sociology Research Group at the University of Cambridge. Her research explores the political economy of global fertility chains, with an empirical focus on the transnational surrogacy chain between Israel/Palestine, Ukraine (egg cell provision) and Georgia (surrogacy). She is interested in understanding women’s participation in the fertility industry from a reproductive labour perspective, at the crossroads of ongoing histories of (bio)capitalism and (settler)colonialism.

Siggie is also an organizer with the Women’s Strike and Slow Science. And she loves dogs, she really does.

Bronwyn Parry

Bronwyn Parry

Bronwyn Parry is Professor in Social Science, Health and Medicine and is the Head of the School of Global Affairs at King’s College London.

Her first book, ‘Trading the Genome: Investigating the Commodification of Bio-information’ revealed how biological materials are collected for use in the US pharmaceutical industry and how the engineered artefacts derived from them (i.e. cell lines, tissues samples and sequenced DNA) are then traded internationally as part of a new global resource economy in ‘bio-information.’ She subsequently received a major grant from the Wellcome Trust to investigate the social, ethical and legal complexities that attend the creation and operation of human tissue banks in the UK, completing this work through a three-year ethnography of the Addenbrooke’s Hospital Brain bank. As part of her wider commitment to promoting the visual arts as a medium for communicating complex ethical issues in science to a wider public, she mounted a groundbreaking interactive exhibition Mind Over Matter with the artist Ania Dabrowska in 2011, which explored attitudes to memory loss and brain donation for dementia research.

Bronwyn was elected to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in 2007 and has contributed to reports on the forensic use of bio-information, the recent crisis in public health in the UK and dementia care. She has also undertaken comparative work on the role of international regulatory regimes and acted as a consultant for the UN and the UK government in this capacity. She is about to embark on a new collaborative international bioethics project that investigates the production, consumption and regulation of assisted reproductive services in rural and urban centres within India.

Michal Nahman

Michal Nahman

Michal Nahman is an anthropologist working at the crossroads of medical and political anthropology. Her research has focused mainly on transnational human egg donation, specifically her ethnographic study centred on ‘traffic’ in ova between Israel/Palestine and Romania. It looked at the ways in which political, economic and global forces shaped and were shaped by practices of cross border reproductive care. That research was generously funded by the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and the Social Science and humanities Research Council of Canada. She subsequently worked on an ethnographic research project entitled ReproMigrants, examining the experiences of egg donors across borders. She is now looking into the political economy of breastmilk donations in Bangalore.

Prior becoming a Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England in Bristol, she was a Lecturer in Sociology at Lancaster University. She has been a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the BIOS centre at the London School of Economics (2010-2011), and is currently an affiliated scholar of the Cambridge Sociology of Reproduction Research Group (ReproSoc). She has published one full length ethnographic monograph entitled, Extractions: An Ethnography of Reproductive Tourism (Palgrave, 2013), which is now out in paperback. She has been an invited panelist on BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed programme and her work has informed the Nuffield Foundation’s work on donor conception and anonymity.

More recently she has taken up visual social methods, and produced a documentary film entitled, Atomised Mothers: A Film about Isolation, ‘Austerity’ and the politics of parenting (www.atomisedmothers.wordpress.com)

Aïlien Reyns

Aïlien Reyns

Aïlien Reyns is a historian, intermedia artist and researcher who focuses on topics such as migration, public/private space, ethnic/gender discourse, and digital communication. A love for (meta-)narrative, popular culture, and the transformative beauty found at the technical margins of cinematography defines the aesthetic of her oeuvre. Her work always departs from the collection of auditory and/or visual sources, out of which she then selects and composes the narrative and aesthetic elements for her work in co-creative dialogue with her research subjects.

In 2012, Aïlien co-founded TRIPOT with Marius Packbier. Within this Brussels-based artist collective she has developed an oeuvre that is characterized by interdisciplinary research methods and a participatory production process. Her work was exhibited at multiple international art festivals as IFFRotterdam and Schunk* (NL), the Neuer Aachener Kunstverein (DE), the International Experimental Video Art Festival in Museo de Almeria (ES), Yilan Museum of Art (TWN), The Picture Show in New York and the Scholarship Media Festival, University of Pennsylvania (USA). Apart from her artistic work, Aïlien teaches Visual Techniques to visual anthropologists at the University of Antwerp.

Recent works:
http://tracking-the-subject.org/
http://being-close.tripot.org/

Portfolio: http://tripot.org/

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