Critically Mapping Cross-Border Reproduction

Human Reproduction Study Group Winter Event

1 February 2019
University of the West of England, Bristol - PROGRAMME

About the Event

Recent years have seen growing numbers of people engage in cross-border reproductive travel as well as the increasing movement of genetic and reproductive material across state and national boundaries. From Irish women travelling to the UK to access safe abortions, to Israeli sperm being shipped to Romania to fertilize cheap and available oocytes or Spanish same sex couples travelling to California to contract a surrogate carrier, these travels have been enabled by novel and established reproductive technologies and procedures. Such practices have been studied by researchers across the social sciences paying particular attention to issues of gender, kinship and family making, religion, labour and exploitation, race, consumerism, technological intervention and economics.

This one-day event will seek to bring together researchers examining this topic to identify current concerns, priorities and themes in the field of cross border reproductive travel and globalised reproduction. This conference will also ask how social activism, feminism and social theory can help us understand, as well as communicate the findings, of empirical research in this field.

Call for Papers

We welcome theoretical, methodological, and empirical papers which help address the aims of this event or which introduce new pertinent questions that enable us to critically map this arena of study.

Please send abstracts of up to 300 words by 30 November 2018 to the Event Organisers. Abstracts significantly over the word count will not be accepted. Please allow 20 minutes for your presentation.

Keynote Address

We are pleased to announce that the plenary address will be delivered this year by Professor Diana Marre from the AFIN Research Group at the Autonomous University Barcelona, also Visiting Professor 2017-19 at UWE, Bristol.

On stratified reproductive work in Spain: the role of ‘anonymity’ and ‘altruism’

In the early 1990s, Spain was described as having “lowest-low” fertility, and it continues to be have among the lowest fertility rates in Europe. This decreasing fertility may look like a waning desire to have children, but in fact it is an expression of reproductive disappointments due to different reasons that have significantly increased maternal age at first pregnancy. For most Spanish –and European- women, when “the right time” to have children arrives, creating a family often becomes possible through the “intimate” reproductive labour of other women (birth mothers, egg donors and surrogates). The arrangements they make resemble other kinds of labour arrangements in which the racialised, gendered, and geographical devaluing of certain people makes their reproductive labour “cheaper” than that of others, or even free. Here I reflect on the role of ‘anonymity’ and ‘altruism’ both of them justified by the need to prevent child commodification in reproductive work in Spain to illustrate that transnational adoption, assisted reproduction with egg donation and surrogacy share features with other kinds of cross-border care and labour arrangements.

Venue Details

The conference will take place at the University of the West of England, Bristol, in Block X, Room 6X109 (Faculty of Business and Law building). Lunch and refreshments will be included.

Many thanks to Dr Michal Nahman, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at University of the West of England, Bristol and Dr. Sigrid Vertommen, Marie Curie Research Fellow at King’s College London, for agreeing to convene the conference this winter. This event is co-funded by the Wellcome Trust.


  • Concessionary BSA member (full-time student, retired, unwaged) £30
  • Student non-BSA member £35
  • BSA member £40 / Non-BSA member £45

For more information please contact: Michal Nahman.