Accepted Paper:

Contesting their own worlds: assisted reproductive technologies and Muslim women in northern Greece  

Author:

Pinelopi Topali (University of the Aegean)

Paper short abstract:

Muslim women in Greece embrace Islamic pronatalism and engage in ARTs. However, they reject their religious communities’ attempts to control their morality and actively appropriate the ART experience to form, at least provisionally, a self-centered subjectivity related to freedom and modernity.

Paper long abstract:

Women of the Muslim minority in western Thrace, Greece, embrace Islamic pronatalism and highly value procreation. Following the religious duty to reproduce, they engage in Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) (usually intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization), except of third party gamete donation which the Sunni Islam strictly prohibits.

However, the use of ART by Muslim women results in strict community control by various communities (relatives, in-laws, neighbors, villagers, Muslims). Women are suspected for using sperm of another man and not their legal husband, thus, of committing adultery. Under the pressure of procreation, of accusations of adultery and the embodied experience of ART, Muslim women acquire a critical stance on Muslim communities and contest their own worlds.

More specifically, Muslim women, using ART, reconstruct, through the ART experience, webs of relationships and hierarchies of alterity. Their worlds, the minority, the village, doctors, relatives, friends and husbands become re-situated on a new map of intimate or distant relationships. Drawing this map entails following forms of speech on ART. Silences, insinuations, quips, honest, open talking by interlocutors are thoroughly assessed. Styles of speech and contents pointing to a disclosure of the ART experience are related to women's autonomy and freedom and are highly valued. Silencing, on the contrary, is rejected, being related to the past and to women's control. Through the agential practices of appropriating the language on ART usage, and not ART usage per se, Muslim women relate themselves to modernity and the future and construct, at least provisionally, a self-centered subjectivity.

Panel P094
Alliances, networks, and oppositions: the transnational circulation of medical reproductive technologies