The Oocyte Economy: The Changing Meaning of Human Eggs

Duke University Press
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In recent years increasing numbers of women from wealthy countries have turned to egg donation, egg freezing, and in vitro fertilization to become pregnant, especially later in life. This trend has created new ways of using, exchanging, and understanding oocytes—the reproductive cells specific to women. In The Oocyte Economy Catherine Waldby draws on 130 interviews---with scientists, clinicians, and women who have either donated or frozen their oocytes or received those of another woman---to trace how the history of human oocytes' perceived value intersects with the biological and social life of women. Demonstrating how oocytes have come to be understood as discrete and scarce biomedical objects open to valuation, management, and exchange, Waldy examines the global market for oocytes and the power dynamics between recipients and the often younger and poorer donors. With this exploration of the oocyte economy and its contemporary biopolitical significance, Waldby rethinks the relationship between fertility, gendered experience, and biomedical innovation.
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About the author

Catherine Waldby is Director of the Research School of Social Sciences at Australian National University and the author and coauthor of several books, including Clinical Labor: Tissue Donors and Research Subjects in the Global Bioeconomy, also published by Duke University Press.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Apr 15, 2019
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Pages
248
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ISBN
9781478005568
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Language
English
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Genres
Medical / Reproductive Medicine & Technology
Social Science / Gender Studies
Social Science / Sociology / Marriage & Family
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Brown Bodies, White Babies focuses on the practice of cross-racial gestational surrogacy, in which a woman - through in-vitro fertilization using the sperm and egg of intended parents or donors - carries a pregnancy for intended parents of a different race. Focusing on the racial differences between parents and surrogates, this book is interested in how reproductive technologies intersect with race, particularly when brown bodies produce white babies. While the potential of reproductive technologies is far from pre-determined, the ways in which these technologies are currently deployed often serve the interests of dominant groups, through the creation of white, middle-class, heteronormative families.

Laura Harrison, providing an important understanding of the work of women of color as surrogates, connects this labor to the history of racialized reproduction in the United States. Cross-racial surrogacy is one end of a continuum in which dominant groups rely on the reproductive potential of nonwhite women, whose own reproductive desires have been historically thwarted and even demonized. Brown Bodies, White Babies provides am interdisciplinary analysis that includes legal cases of contested surrogacy, historical examples of surrogacy as a form of racialized reproductive labor, the role of genetics in the assisted reproduction industry, and the recent turn toward reproductive tourism. Joining the ongoing feminist debates surrounding reproduction, motherhood, race, and the body, Brown Bodies, White Babies ultimately critiques the new potentials for parenthood that put the very contours of kinship into question.

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