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Conceiving Kinship

Conceiving Kinship: Assisted Conception, Procreation and Family in Southern Europe

Monica M.E. Bonaccorso
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Conceiving Kinship
    Book Description:

    Conceiving Kinshipis an in-depth journey, the first of its kind, into how heterosexual, lesbian and gay couples using programmes of gamete donation conceptualize and make Italian kinship. It explores the provision of treatment in clinical and non-clinical settings at a time when Italy was considered the 'Wild-West' of assisted conception. This compelling study provides a new perspective on hotly debated issues in kinship studies and the modern medical technologies; it offers fresh insights into longstanding questions of cultural continuities and discontinuities in European kinship.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-867-6
    Subjects: Anthropology, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Boxes
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. x-xii)
    Monica M.E. Bonaccorso

    Conceiving Kinshipis set in Italy at a time when the country was regarded internationally as the ‘Wild West’ of assisted conception. I carried out fieldwork in the late 1990s, when heated parliamentary debates over legislation were taking place (see Appendix I). In fact legislation was only approved years later, in 2004, when the centre-right government of Berlusconi passed one of the most restrictive laws in Europe. It is precisely the long-standing legislative vacuum and political chaos around assisted conception that captured my interest in the first place; it made assisted conception an interesting arena to explore from many different...

  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. INTRODUCTION Conceiving Kinship: Assisted Conception, Procreation and Family in Southern Europe
    (pp. xv-xxii)

    Conceiving Kinshipis set in Italy in the late 1990s. It explores contemporary Italian kinship – notions of procreation, the family, biological and social relatedness – as evoked by assisted conception, and particularly by programmes of gamete donation (that is, programmes that involve anonymous egg and sperm donation). It examines the kinship narratives that surround such programmes in the light of different vested interests, life-styles and worldviews. It compares how heterosexual and lesbian and gay couples making families by donation conceptualize and make sense, culturally, of their choices and experiences. Unable to procreate ‘naturally’, they both rely on gamete donation to conceive...

  7. CHAPTER 1 Locating Conceiving Kinship: New Subjects, New Boundaries?
    (pp. 1-14)

    This chapter aims to locateConceiving Kinshipwithin two bodies of literature: the anthropological literature on assisted conception, and that on Italian Anthropology. The first section offers an overview of works located in Britain and America, pointing to those that will be most informative here. Inevitably, such an exercise highlights the overwhelming predominance (in the English-speaking world) of studies informed by a so-called Euro-American perspective (as several authors themselves claim) and the lack of an equivalent anthropological focus on Southern Europe. It also highlights a concentration of works, within the disciplinary field of social anthropology, in the mid to late...

  8. CHAPTER 2 Research in Place: Shifting Fields of Enquiry
    (pp. 15-32)

    This chapter sets out the investigation. It describes the social relations that made fieldwork possible and the various field sites: clinicians operating in private clinics of assisted conception, infertile heterosexual couples suffering from imparted infertility and undergoing programmes of gamete donation, infertile couples undergoing programmes with their own gametes, couples with no vested interest in assisted conception, couples suffering from infertility and attending programmes with their own gametes and, finally, adoptive couples. The aim is to reconstruct the research setting, contextualize certain research choices and the methodological approach, including what I have called the ‘without-method approach’. This is a strategic...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Heterosexual Couples: Life Plans, Irreversible Infertility and the Choice of a Programme of Gamete Donation
    (pp. 33-50)

    Anna (married to Paolo)¹ is thirty-three years old. She works as a manager in a fashion company in Milan. Her husband is infertile. I meet her for the first time while she is lying down on the gynaecologist’s bed. In the room there are two clinicians. I am wearing, as they are, acamice(white gown). Before entering the room I was asked to wear it by one of the clinicians: ‘you need to look like one of us’, he explained. When I go in, I walk towards Anna, introduce myself and smile. She smiles too. I then stand up...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Heterosexual Couples: Gamete Donation, Donors and Biogenetic Make-up
    (pp. 51-65)

    Matilde (married to Giorgio) is twenty-eight years old, an ex-model. Matilde, who suffers from premature menopause, says she is desperate for a child, herownchild. She has already had IVF treatment with egg donation but failed and is now on the waiting list for a second attempt. Although she is hoping to be treated soon, she finds it difficult to accept the genetic contribution of an egg donor. If she had the choice she would rather attempt a new treatment available in the United States that, in her words, would still allow her to maintain a genetic link with...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Heterosexual Couples and Clinicians: Strategies in Private Clinics of Assisted Conception
    (pp. 66-83)

    This extract from my field notes describes a moment of heavy tension with clinicians and the fact that although, at this point, I had been attending the clinic for a while and had developed personal relationships with each of the clinicians, it was really never that clear what could be said and made explicit and what should be left unsaid. Anything that had to do with the programmes, treatment, couples, motivations and choice – but especially donors and the practice of donation itself – was a highly sensitive subject and could be discussed only by following certain rules. My question...

  12. CHAPTER 6 Lesbian and Gay Couples Making Families by Donation
    (pp. 84-106)

    Nora and Cristiana illustrate the predicament of many same-sex couples who go through the process of planning families. They illustrate the stages couples often go through before deciding to act on the desire and make clear the complexity of such a choice, with so much at stake. After coming back from a holiday in India Nora and Cristiana have been contemplating more than ever the possibility of starting a family together, and have been proactive in making it happen. To spread the word around,mettere la voce in giro, means to let friends and acquaintances know one’s intention to find...

  13. CHAPTER 7 The Traffic in Kinship: Southern Europe and Euro-America
    (pp. 107-116)

    WithConceiving KinshipI have taken a journey into heterosexual couples’ discovery of infertility and their subsequent decision to undergo programmes of gamete donation; I have added (in footnotes) the views of couples who also suffer from infertility but undergo programmes in public hospitals with their own gametes, or else adopt. In the same fashion, I have included the views of couples with no vested interest. In the last chapter I have offered an alternative perspective: that of lesbian and gay couples planning families by donation. In all cases gamete donation has remained at the core of the investigation. What...

  14. APPENDIX I Assisted Conception in Italy: A Legislative and Political Controversy, 1996 – 99
    (pp. 117-126)
  15. APPENDIX II Profile of Infertile Heterosexual Couples
    (pp. 127-130)
  16. APPENDIX IIA Profiles of Lesbian and Gay Couples
    (pp. 131-134)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 135-146)
  18. Index
    (pp. 147-154)