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Accepted Paper:

Professionalizing the experience of surrogacy. Former surrogates as professionals accompanying women carrying pregnancies for others.  
Nancy Anne Konvalinka (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia) Ariadna Ayala Rubio (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the views of best practices of women who, having been surrogates, have become professionals employing “technologies of alignment” to accompany other women who become surrogates, helping them navigate a context loaded with biomedical, technological, legal and relationship issues.

Paper long abstract:

Anthropologically, the reproductive process is mediated by cultural symbols, social representations and visions of the body, pregnancy, biology and kinship.

In commercial surrogacy in the USA, gestation-reproduction is situated in a context conformed by diverse actors and technologies. While researchers have investigated surrogates’ experiences in different contexts (Teman 2010; Pande 2014; Berend 2016), we will explore visions regarding best practices of former surrogates who have become professionals accompanying other surrogates. Siegl’s (2018) concept of “technologies of alignment” is useful here to refer to the work these surrogate coordinators do: they seek a balance between providing close care and keeping an appropriate emotional distance so as to ensure a “nice journey” for surrogates, taking on different roles, offering information and helping to navigate a context loaded with biomedical, legal and relationship issues. The role of these professionals in surrogacy agencies is essential to understanding how surrogates experience their process of pregnancy and conceptualize their relationships with the baby, medical technologies (Thompson 2005) and the intending parents. Based on ethnographic research, we will present the visions of women who, having been surrogates themselves, decide to work for agencies as coordinators or create their own surrogacy agencies. These professionals generate a culture regarding what it means to do reproduction for others through surrogacy in appropriate and ethical terms. In this paper, we consider the socio-material conditions that make it possible to discuss reproduction for others in these terms and present profiles of women who express their personal and professional satisfaction with their experiences.

Panel P141
Doing and undoing reproduction [Medical Anthropology Europe [MAE]
  Session 1