17 Oct 2008 5:00pm - 6:30pm Centre for Family Research, Room 606


Prof. Marcia Inhorn (Department of Anthropology, Yale University)

Chaired by Prof. Marilyn Strathern (Social Anthropology, Cambridge)

What motivates the global movements of infertile people searching for assisted reproductive technologies and human gametes?  Inspired by recent developments in globalization theory, medical anthropology, and science and technology studies, this paper examines the new global phenomenon of “reproductive tourism”, defined as travel in the pursuit of assisted reproductive technologies, usually from one country to another. In the Muslim Middle East, Islamic bioethical attitudes toward bodily commodification and human gamete donation pose both constraints on and opportunities for reproductive tourism, particularly between Sunni- and Shia-dominant societies. Based on ethnographic research carried out in “global Dubai” and three other Middle Eastern sites, this paper will argue that reproductive tourism is an under-theorized manifestation of Middle Eastern modernity, and that such modernity is enacted, contrary to neo-orientalist stereotypes, in the realm of Middle Eastern gender relations and masculinity.

Marcia C. Inhorn, PhD, MPH, is the William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs in the Department of Anthropology and The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University. There, she also serves as Chair of the Council on Middle East Studies. Before coming to Yale in 2008, Inhorn was a professor of medical anthropology at the University of Michigan and president of the Society for Medical Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association. A specialist on Middle Eastern gender and health issues, Inhorn has conducted research on the social impact of infertility and assisted reproductive technologies in Egypt, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and Arab America over the past 20 years. She is the author of three books on the subject, Local Babies, Global Science: Gender, Religion, and In Vitro Fertilization in Egypt (Routledge, 2003), Infertility and Patriarchy: The Cultural Politics of Gender and Family Life in Egypt (U Pennsylvania Press, 1996) and Quest for Conception: Gender, Infertility, and Egyptian Medical Traditions (U Pennsylvania Press, 1994), which have won the
AAA's Eileen Basker Prize and the Diana Forsythe Prize for outstanding feminist anthropological research in the areas of gender, health, science, technology, and biomedicine. She is also the editor or co-editor of six books, including Anthropology and Public Health: Bridging Differences in Culture and Society (Oxford U Press, 2009), Reproductive Disruptions: Gender, Technology, and Biopolitics in the New Millennium (Berghahn Books, 2007), and Infertility around the Globe: New Thinking on Childlessness, Gender, and Reproductive Technologies (U California Press, 2002). She has been a visiting faculty member at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, and the American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, where she has conducted studies on “Middle Eastern Masculinities in the Age of New Reproductive Technologies” and “Globalization and Reproductive Tourism in the Arab World.”  She is the founding editor of JMEWS (Journal of Middle East Women's Studies) of the Association of Middle East Women's Studies, and co-editor of the Berghahn Book series on “Fertility, Sexuality and Reproduction.”

All welcome. No registration required.

Part of the Cambridge Interdisciplinary Reproduction Forum (CIRF


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk