Relatedness through Transnational Reproduction

Convenors: Corinna Sabrina Guerzoni (Università di Bologna) & Giulia Zanini (Queen Mary, London)


One of the salient features of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) is their capability to produce mobilities, something which has moral, body-related, economic and emotional consequences (Melhuus, 2009). Although being globally spread, ARTs’ local availability depends on a number of factors, among which national regulations play a crucial role. Legal provisions, establishing which reproductive services or techniques are available to whom and at what cost, have proven to be one of the reasons why individuals cross borders to seek conception and reproductive care (Shenfield et al. 2010). The issue of legal restrictions to ARTs in given locations in the so-called Global North and the availability of services in others, have contributed to the emergence of flows of people moving to specific areas of the world to seek assistance or to offer their reproductive services, on the one hand. On the other hand, they have contributed to foster a stratification of reproduction (Colen 1995; Ginsburgs & Rapp 1995) on a global scale. This phenomenon has multidimensional implications (Salama et al. 2018), whereby ethical, economic, social, cultural and legal dimensions are intertwined in the production of parenthood for certain individuals through the participation of multiple actors. While travel to cross-border services has been welcome as a form of resistance to local heteronormative or selective reproductive politics and has been related to ‘queer reproductions’, it has also attracted criticism for its participation in global gendered exploitative dynamics. Reproduction scholars have recently brought into conversation three different approaches to the study of transnational reproduction: ‘queer reproductions’, ‘stratified reproduction’ and ‘reproductive justice’ (Smietana, Thompson and Twine 2018). Taking on such an urgent call for further reflection, we propose to look at how relatedness (Carsten 2004) is created among actors in cross-borders reproductive encounters. In this panel we aim at exploring the ways in which all actors involved in transnational reproduction relate to its complexities through the elaboration of specific narratives, feelings, practices or legal actions of relatedness to one another.

Open Questions

- How does transnational reproduction affect the way in which prospective parents, donors or surrogates feel about relatedness in their life in relation to and beyond their transnational reproductive experience?

- What is the role of mediators, brokers, facilitators and lawyers in the creation of specific narratives and practices of relatedness or kinship following transnational reproduction?

- How do local administrations, policy-makers and national and international courts deal with claims of kinship or relatedness proceeding from transnational reproductive practices?

- How does transnational reproduction change local policies in different locations in terms of relatedness and kinship (i.e. country of residence of travelers; reproductive hubs; country of residence of surrogates or donors; etc.)?

- What kind of moral economies are being mobilized when building relatedness through transnational reproduction?

- How can scholarly attention to transnational reproduction participate in building global solidarities? + How are the concepts of reproductive justice and reproductive rights are used by different social actors and institutions when referring to different kind of relatedness in transnational reproduction?


Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), Sperm and Egg Donation, Surrogacy, Relatedness, Transnational Reproduction.

Fields of Study

Anthropology, Sociology, Feminist and Gender Studies, Kinship Studies, Reproduction Studies.


Posted in