Panels

Panel 1: Reconsidering assumptions and analytic concepts of intimacy

Changing aspects of family and gender have been a crucial research issue since the beginning of social studies on ARTs. In the vein of this research we will reconsider how fertility, family, kinship, and sexuality are constructed and lived. How have ideas (normative and legal notions) and practices about ‘kinship’ or ‘relatedness’ changed in different national and transnational contexts since the emergence of significant technologies of assisted reproduction (such as DI, IVF, ICSI) and the circulation of body parts (such as sperm, eggs and embryos)? What are the paradoxes and ambivalences related to these ideas and practices? Are they shifting by the processes of normalization? How important are notions of gifts and commodities related to gametes, embryos and children in the context of ARTs to date? What kind of kinship and family issues, notions and concepts are donor conceived children, their siblings and parents confronted with? What kind of family and kinship phenomena may they encounter with when children are conceived by eggs created from ovarian tissue taken from cadavers of women or aborted foetuses, from umbilical cord blood from babies stored in banks, or from ooplasmic transfer? How are processes of gendering and ageing of familial and other care configurations redefined by ARTs? Should we give up or reconceptualise our thinking about genealogies and families in radically new ways?

Panel 2: Contested familial and other configurations of care in Swiss (trans)national context

In Switzerland, reproductive conceptions with ARTs are legally strongly restricted. There are gender and sexual inequalities with regard to treatments with third parties, in that only sperm donation is allowed; egg donation and surrogacy are forbidden. How ist such a regime to be interpreted historically? Despite these restrictions in legal regulation, people make use of various ARTs through transnational connections. What is the range of ideas and practices about family, kinship and sexualities in various Swiss contexts when children are conceived with gametes of the parents or with donor gametes? How is fertility conceptualised locally, and how are male and female infertility considered and coped with? In which ways are lesbians, gay, transgender and genderqueer people considered infertile by legislation? And how do they create familial or intimate configurations of care?

Panel 3: Nationalising fertilities, families and religion

Regimes of fertility and relatedness are strongly influenced by nationhood and religion. This does apply to national contexts, which are based on Christian moral and ethical principles, as well as to nation-states with mostly Muslim and Jewish populations. How do nation-states create their specific regimes of fertility, family and kinship, given the possibilities of ARTs? What is the role of religion, law, morality, and ethics in creating and challenging these regimes? Are they enabling or disenabling certain ideas and practices? How do lay people and experts cope with the specificities of national and religious governance? And do these understandings and practices effect new kinds of social dynamics? How can we conceptualise the relationship between science and religious cosmologies in the age of biotechnologies? How is religion used as a resource to cope with vulnerability? What kinds of subjectivities are constructed which conform to and contest existing norms and processes of normalization?