Brown Bodies, White BabiesThe Politics of Cross-Racial Surrogacy

Brown Bodies, White BabiesThe Politics of Cross-Racial Surrogacy

Laura Harrison

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9781479808175

Publisher: NYU Press

Abstract

Brown Bodies, White Babies contributes to an active field of literature on reproductive technologies while addressing understudied aspects of surrogacy within this scholarship. With notable exceptions, feminist analyses of surrogacy have largely focused on the gendered implications of the practice and minimized the role of race. Brown Bodies, White Babies takes intersectionality as a crucial starting point, examining the ways in which identity categories come together to form nexuses of privilege and oppression. Fertility clinics, surrogacy agencies, and intended parents often dismiss the role of race in gestational surrogacy arrangements as inconsequential, particularly in comparison to the race of egg and sperm donors who will contribute their genetic material. A surrogate is measured instead by markers of appropriate femininity, including the completeness of her own biological family, and the perceived authenticity of her altruistic motivations. Yet gender identity is not isolated from socially identified race, and thus the race of the surrogate takes on varying levels of importance in relation to other intersectional constructs. As new media narratives of surrogacy are constantly being produced and innovations in reproductive technologies advance at a rapid rate, it is difficult, if not impossible, to keep pace. However, the arguments and theoretical frameworks that underpin this research remain relevant, largely because this project resonates beyond the specificity of ARTs and draws historicized comparisons that tap into a much longer tradition of cross-racial reproductive labor.