SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

Transnational Commercial Surrogacy and the (Un)Making of Kin in India

Transnational Commercial Surrogacy and the (Un)Making of Kin in India
Anindita Majumdar (Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad)

Date: 10 December 2019Time: 5:30 PM

Finishes: 10 December 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B104

Type of Event: Seminar


‘Transnational Commercial Surrogacy and the (Un)Making of Kin in India’ is an ethnographic study of the practice of commercial gestational surrogacy in a transnational context. The focus here is on the different participants who enter the arrangement to produce a baby (or babies). Such as: the commissioning couples/ intended parents; the doctors and surrogacy agents who help couples and individuals navigate the assisted reproductive technologies, such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF); and the Indian commercial gestational surrogate mothers who help incubate an artificially fertilized pregnancy. Embedded in an Indian setting but involving a transnational engagement with technology, laws, people and relationships, this lecture seeks to explore the ways in which kin are made and understood. The cross-cultural navigation of kinship beliefs, especially those regarding genes, biology and blood, is mapped through the process of the commercial gestational surrogacy arrangement. Through the choice of the arrangement, the surrogate pregnancy, and the seeking of state identity and membership for the newborn—kinship and relatedness are constructed, understood and dismantled through multiple other processes that inform the commercial gestational surrogacy arrangement in India. Debates on biology and the social within the anthropology of kinship are revisited through the process of commercial gestational surrogacy in India, especially in the ways in which motherhood and fatherhood are re-imagined through the socializing role of technology.


Anindita Majumdar is Assistant Professor, Department of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad. Anindita has been researching on commercial surrogacy, kinship and infertility since 2010. Her book based on her ethnographic research was published in 2017 by Oxford University Press, and is titled Transnational Commercial Surrogacy and the (Un)Making of Kin in India, which was also awarded the ‘Distinction in Doctoral Research Award’ by the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi in 2016. Anindita was also recently invited to contribute to the Oxford India Short Introductions Series on Surrogacy, which was published in 2019. Anindita is currently researching and writing on the linkages between ageing and assisted reproductive technologies in India: including fieldwork in North India amongst post-menopausal couples who became pregnant through the use of assisted reproductive technologies. The research has been supported with a generous grant from Wellcome UK, along with a parallel research on the biological clock and infertility treatment in South India supported by the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR).

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Organiser: SOAS South Asia Institute

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