September 2013: Conference Contesting Fertilities, Families, and Sexualities

Social and Historical Perspectives on Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Since the beginning of the 1990s many insightful studies on the social and cultural conditions and effects of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) have been published. Pioneering anthropological research has been done by Marilyn Strathern, Jeanette Edwards, Sarah Franklin and Monika Konrad in the UK, next to important work about the US by Gay Becker and Charis Thompson. Further pioneering work has been conducted by Marcia Inhorn on Egypt, Susan Kahn on Israel, Anne Cadoret on France and Brigitte Hauser-Schäublin on Germany. After more than twenty years of the proliferation of social research on ARTs, it is time to reconsider concepts such as fertility, human reproduction, family and gender in the light of the development of gender and queer studies, recent kinship studies, religious studies, medical anthropology, bioethics, history of medicine and science and technology studies.

Social and historical research on ARTs is a rather new field in the Swiss context, meaning studies at Swiss universities about the Swiss situation on the one hand and about ARTs in other countries on the other hand. Current research in this context shows the highly contested character of potential innovations of ideas and practices around fertility, kinship and family relatedness, gender and personhood, religion and law through ARTs. With its focus on research conducted in Switzerland including a transnational outlook, this conference provides interesting clues for discussing the current state of the art, for reconfiguring theoretical concepts, and for creating new issues and directions of research in this field.

This conference starts from the research projects “Fertility and Family in Switzerland. Local Processes of Reproduction and Kinship in Transnational Contexts of Biomedical Technologies” (2010-2013) funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), and “Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Iran from an Anthropological Perspective: Legal and Jurisprudential Responses and Social Dynamics (2009-2012) funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and is linked to the work of international scholars from different social and historical disciplines. The speakers will present a wide range of topics, including transnational, legal, economic and religious or moral-ethical dimensions: theoretical assumptions and analytical concepts of fertility, family, kinship, gender, sexuality and age; ARTs in Switzerland with regard to fertility and the building of families as well as other networks of care; and ARTs beyond Switzerland related to nationhood, kinship, law and religion. Especially the topics of ARTs and fertility, ARTs and non-nuclear configurations of care, ARTs and age, as well as ARTs and the dynamics of nation, law, morality and religion are still understudied in the social and historical sciences. The conference features three panels organized around the following questions.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

9:45 AM Registration and Reception
10:15 AM Welcome and Introduction
  Mareile Flitsch, University of Zurich
Deputy Head of the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
  Willemijn de Jong, University of Zurich
Head of the Project Fertility and Family in Switzerland
10:45 AM Jeanette Edwards, University of Manchester
Donor conception : (dis)closure, openness and privacy
11:45 AM Coffee Break
12:15 AM Enric Porqueres i Gené, EHESS Paris
Sacred ART
1:15 PM Lunch
Panel 1 Reconsidering assumptions and analytic concepts of intimacy
Chair: Nadja Eggert, University of Lausanne
2:45 PM Simon Teuscher, University of Zurich
Kinship in Europe since the Middle Ages: the success-story of a concept of relatedness
  Andrea Maihofer, University of Basel
Forms of family life (familiale Lebensformen) between change and persistence: a tentative assessment of current trends
4:00 PM Coffee Break
4:30 PM Anne Lavanchy, London School of Economics
“This is a lovely couple”: intimacy, formal institutions and the production of desirable nationals
  Willemijn de Jong, University of Zurich
The good “child as gift” versus the bad “child as project” in Swiss reproductive medicine: conundrums of kinship and magic
6:00 PM Discussant: Tanja Krones, University of Zurich
Institute of Biomedical Ethics
8:00 PM Dinner

Friday, September 6, 2013

Panel 2 Contested familial and other configurations of care in Swiss (trans)national contexts
Chair: Virginie Stucki, Ecole d'études sociales et pédagogiques Lausanne
09:15 AM Marianne Modak, Haute Ecole de Travail Social et de la Santé - Vaud (EESP)
Family institution in motion: the case of “non statutory” parents
  Eveline Yv Nay, University of Zurich and Basel
Intimate politics of queer families
10:30 AM Coffee Break
11:00 AM Kathrin Zehnder, University of Zurich
Anonymity as relatedness – relatedness as imagination: semen donors and donor children in Switzerland
  Nolwenn Bühler, University of Zurich
Challenging the genealogical model: continuity, transmission, and generation in context of assisted reproductive technologies and age-related infertility in Switzerland
12:30 PM Discussant: Brigitte Leeners, University of Zurich
Division of Reproductive Endocrinology
1:00 PM Lunch
Panel 3 Nationalizing fertilities, families and religion
Chair: Anika König, University of Lucerne and Berlin
2:15 PM Maryvonne Charmillot, University of Geneva
Infertility and use of assisted reproductive technologies in an African context: understanding the experience of women and men in Burkina Faso
  Sibylle Lustenberger, University of Berne
Tel Aviv-Mumbai-Tel Aviv: same-sex couples seeking parenthood in India
4:00 PM Coffee Break
4:30 PM Shirin Garmaroudi Naef, University of Zurich
Shia concepts of motherhood in the context of egg donation and surrogacy in Iran: towards an ontology of kinship
  Bettina Dennerlein, University of Zurich
Family, the state and (Post-)Islamist positions on sexuality and reproduction in contemporary Egypt
6:00 PM Discussant: Eylem Copur, University of Zurich
ZHAW, School of Management and Law
6:15 PM Final remarks