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Carolin Schurr shows how surrogacy markets work in two recent papers in geography’s top journals

25.05.2016 16:13

Branco Weiss Fellow Carolin Schurr published two papers in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers and Environment and Planning D: Society and Space that have raised great interest in the field of human geography.

In her article in Transactions, Schurr with her collaborator Martin Müller exemplify how geographers’ work can benefit from differentiating between two approaches that have similar epistemological assumptions but offer different insights for empirical work, namely assemblage thinking and the actor-network theory (ANT). These two theoretical perspectives are then employed to understand how transnational surrogacy markets are made or “assembled” across national borders.

Employing ANT helps to understand that the economic networks of surrogacy markets are made up of socio-technical assemblages of diverse actors ranging from sex cells, petri dishes to computer programs and laboratory installations. Assemblage thinking on the other hand puts emphasis on affects and desires as central force that hold these networks of human and non-human actors together across time and distance.

The paper in Environment and Planning D analyzes the transnational geographies of surrogacy markets in Mexico. Schurr comes up with controversial results: It’s no longer the state but active consumers that make racialized reproductive choices. Future bodies are whitened through biomedical practices and consumer choices that are shaped by and simultaneously reinforce (post-) colonial imaginaries of white desirability.

Read the paper in Transactions

Read Carolin Schurr’s blog post

Read the paper in Environment and Planning D