(IN)FERTILE CITIZENS: ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND LEGAL CHALLENGES OF ASSISTED REPRODUCTION TECHNOLOGIES, 28-30 May 2015, Mytilene, Lesvos Greece (University Hill, Geography building)

 

The Lab of Family and Kinship Studies, Department of Social Anthropology and History, University of the Aegean, Greece within the framework of the research program (In)FERCIT organizes the international conference:

(IN)FERTILE CITIZENS: ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND LEGAL CHALLENGES OF ART

The regulation of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) varies significantly between different European countries. The outcome of such legal diversity is that an ever-growing number of people may travel within Europe, searching for possibilities for reproduction, because they do not have access to feasible ARTs in their own countries due to legal, economic, practical, technological or religious reasons. Current discussions on assisted reproduction and cross-border reproduction focus on a permissive vs. restrictive discourse that draws on notions of reproductive autonomy, free will, right to choose on the one hand and protection of life, human dignity, public acceptance, moral views of the majority, “adequate protection from the state”, on the other (Blyth and Farrand 2005). The current proliferation of ARTs on European and global level necessitates that research moves beyond liberal/libertarian vs. restrictive dichotomies and reconsiders topics of reproductive citizenship in relation to the specific cultural contexts, local/ global exchanges and social/ technological networks they emerge from. In the context of this conference, we propose to explore two axes of research which combine an interdisciplinary approach with a comparative one. The first calls for a cooperation between anthropological and legal studies and aims at exploring its potentialities in the field of reproductive rights and ARTs. The second invites to reflect upon the practicability and epistemological value of comparison, by investigating ARTs implementation in different neighbouring European and non-European countries and transnational reproductive networks emerging within, across and beyond them. 1. Anthropology and Law The conference aims to adopt an interdisciplinary –anthropological and legal– perspective in order to examine issues of politics, citizenship and human rights. The relation of the anthropology of kinship to legal studies is well-acknowledged. Our aim is to work on the interrelation of anthropology and law and look more closely at:

  • politics of reproduction and exclusions/ inclusions in terms of age, gender, sexuality, economic background
  • subtle social mechanisms leading to exclusion of (in)fertile citizens, especially women
  • human rights concerns and laws that define who is eligible to become parent and who is not
  • the socially constructed value of “having children from one’s own genetic material” and how this is being informed by the legal framework (ART vs. adoption)
  • the medicalisation of conception as both an opportunity and a threat for personal autonomy
  • the ways in which reproductive “freedom” as a manifestation of one’s autonomy is transformed into a “right” to assisted reproduction
  • which kinship units are to be valued and supported according to the local cultural-legal-religious contexts (the couple, the mother or father to be, single mothers, “other” parents, the child, the nuclear family, the extended family, etc)

2. Comparative Approaches: European and Mediterranean countries A second axis of interest focuses on comparisons between European and non-European neighboring countries mainly bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean context is one of great variety for what concerns religion, citizenship, governance, health care systems, beliefs and practices surrounding wellbeing, family formation practices and values, legal systems and the convergences and disjunctions between these domains and the state. The introduction of ARTs in different Mediterranean neighboring countries has raised a number of different local public dynamics leading to multiple political, religious and legal reactions. The availability of infertility treatments and of specific techniques and procedures in each national context is linked to the combination of such dynamics with the private initiative of practitioners and public and private investors to engage in the development of local fertility programs and with the individual demand for treatments by local and transnational populations. Individual responses to ARTs are the result of a number of factors including the way in which people experience infertility and reproductive expectations, the understandings they display of different techniques and the practical, legal and moral accessibility of treatments both locally and translocally. Our aim is to examine, from a comparative perspective,:

  • religious beliefs
  • concepts and practices of (in)fertility
  • technologies and technological advances
  • cross-border reproductive care and reproductive biomedical mobilities
  • local and global networks (medical, social, academic)

Scholars from anthropological and legal disciplines are invited to discuss with one another the temporal and spatial socio-political dynamics of ARTs use and the reproductive medical mobilities in order to build a composite and comprehensive account of contemporary reproductive realities and challenges within and across specific national jurisdictions. ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND LEGAL CHALLENGES OF ASSISTED REPRODUCTION TECHNOLOGIES

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