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Brown Bodies, White BabiesThe Politics of Cross-Racial Surrogacy$
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Laura Harrison

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781479808175

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479808175.001.0001

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From Mammies to Mommy Machines

From Mammies to Mommy Machines

Gender and Racialized Reproductive Labor

(p.89) 3 From Mammies to Mommy Machines
Brown Bodies, White Babies

Laura Harrison

NYU Press

This chapter examines how discourses of race are influenced by the economic and reproductive imperatives of society at different historical moments. The author compares historical examples of racialized reproduction to contemporary examples with an analysis of two legal cases involving cross-racial gestational surrogacy in the United States: Johnson v. Calvert and, more recently, Marion County Division of Children’s Services v. Melinger. The specifics of these two cases vary dramatically; most notably, African American surrogate Anna Johnson went to court for custody of the child she bore, while the more recent case focused on the parental fitness of the white intended father. However, in both instances racial difference between the surrogate and intended parents served the interests of the racially and economically privileged parties. Like cross-racial wet nursing, cross-racial gestational surrogacy is part of a complicated history of racialized reproductive labor in the United States.

Keywords:   racialized reproduction, wet nursing, Johnson, Calvert, Marion County, Melinger

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