Accepted paper:

What you see is what you'll learn: filming and viewing transnational surrogacy in India

Author:

Nadja-Christina Schneider (Humboldt University Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

Starting from the question how we learn to ‘see’ the rapid development of assisted reproductive technologies and their repercussions through visual media, my paper takes an interest in the growing number of documentaries and fictive films about transnational surrogacy and reproductive tourism in India.

Paper long abstract:

A characteristic feature of the relationship between technology and society may be seen in the fact that we are often not aware of a seminal innovation until it becomes the focus of attention and commentary in the media. Accordingly, the actual "innovation has already taken place", and Marilyn Strathern infers that, "one cannot independently 'see' that prior process of change (2002:985)". Starting from the question how we learn to 'see' the rapid development of assisted reproductive technologies and their social repercussions through visual media, my paper takes an interest in the growing number of documentaries and fictive films about transnational surrogacy and reproductive tourism in India. How is the newly emerging 'peripheral figure' of the biological family - the so-called surrogate mother - depicted in recent documentaries, short films or feature films? What roles are ascribed to her in the context of changing notions of family and motherhood? And how can we assess the contribution of films to the 'production' and circulation of knowledge about reproductive tourism in India? To discuss these three questions, I will use the example of two recently produced short films (2012 and 2014) and two documentaries about transnational surrogacy in India (2012 and 2013).

panel P23
Changing family realities in South Asia