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Emerging reproductive mobilities and markets across Central Eurasia 
Polina Vlasenko (University of Oxford)
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Shahnoza Nozimova (University of Oxford)
Madeleine Reeves (University of Oxford)
Elene Gavashelishvili (Ilia State University)
Anthropology & Archaeology
207 (Floor 2)
Saturday 8 June, -
Time zone: Asia/Almaty


This roundtable focuses on a vast cross-border movement of people, biomaterials, technologies, and medical expertise for infertility treatments across Central Eurasia. Case studies of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) markets in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Georgia provide important and timely vectors of comparison for understanding the changing economic geographies of reproductive care.

In Central Eurasia, involuntary childlessness is a source of immense social stigma, addressed through a heterogeneous therapeutic landscape of traditional and biomedical sites of healing reaching beyond national borders. Responses to it have been shaped by the transformation of the social and medical landscape over the last two decades, including the revival of previously-devalued forms of non-biomedical healing, the growing salience of religion in daily life, and the development, transnational spread and commercialization of ARTs. Moreover, as the war has caused a shift in the market for surrogacy away from Ukraine, some Central Asian states are positioning themselves as international ‘reprohubs’ and hundreds of women from Central Asia are traveling to Georgia, now global center for the practice, to offer surrogacy services to growing Chinese, Israeli, and European clientele. In this context, regulations are shaping and altering the direction of flows for international ARTs arrangements – with law in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan recognizing the right to the use of surrogacy, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan banning the practice, and Georgia considering restrictions for foreign nationals.

Through a focus on the social costs of infertility, sites of reproductive care, itineraries of reproductive assistance, and debates about the (bio)ethics of emergent reproductive technologies, this roundtable will illuminate how different models and practices of reproductive care are debated and used by individuals and couples seeking assisted reproductive care within and across borders in stratified and rapidly-marketizing medical landscapes; how biomedical interventions to address infertility are incorporated into wider repertoires of healing practices; how ARTs appear as objects of policy intervention, legal regulation, and religious commentary in emerging reproductive markets. The roundtable will address the public debates about the ethics of assisted reproduction across borders, the role of state in mediating access to reproductive care and determining inward and outward reproductive flows, the reconfiguration of “reprohubs”, the physical and emotional experiences of reproductive migrants, local gender, kinship, religious, class and racial norms shaping reproductive experiences and affecting understandings of gender, work and kinship.