Accepted Paper:

Opening up parenthood: a theoretical exploration of movement, grids and gaps in gestational surrogacy  


Sophya Yumakulov (York University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores gestational surrogacy through Massumi's framework of movement, grids and gaps. I argue that surrogate bodies occupy a gap between "parent" and "non-parent" and in fact close the gaps for individuals wishing to be parents in a system of continuous motion, creation and recreation.

Paper long abstract:

The purpose of this paper is to explore gestational surrogacy through the theoretical framework of movement as presented by Brian Massumi (2002). Massumi asks us to view the world (including the social world) not as a static array of categories and discrete events, but as dynamic, every-moving entities, bodies, feelings, and experiences. He urges us to refrain from placing our study subjects into a "grid" which orders them into static categories, and instead, to think about how those objects, bodies, and phenomena occupy the in-between spaces of the "grid". Thus, the proposed paper explores how this theoretical framework can help us to "open up" our understanding of surrogacy, by asking what gaps of the "grid" surrogacy occupies, and subsequently, where the real movement and action of surrogacy takes place. I present the argument that gestational surrogates themselves occupy a space that is in-between, in a gap between two states of being: parent and non-parent. In fact, surrogates close the gap for individuals wishing to become parents. In between parent and non-parent, (and child and non-child), is the surrogate body, and it is a body perpetually flowing between these states. I demonstrate how this approach can help us to think about motion and the entire progression of events that have to take place in order for a child to be produced through surrogacy. It is a system that is never static, irreducible to a series of discrete points in space and time, a continuum of motion, creation and recreation.

Panel MB-MT04
Flexible reproduction: on the moving articulations of reproduction, technology and culture