Fertility Frontiers: A global history of transnational reproduction in Belgium from cross-feminist perspective

01 November 2022 → 31 October 2025
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • World history
    • Gender studies
  • Social sciences
    • Postcolonial studies
    • Research, science and technology policy
    • Globalisation
cross-feminist approach global history transnational reproductive technologies
Project description

The global demise in intercountry adoption procedures is opening up newer, technologically advanced fertility frontiers, including transnational egg donation and surrogacy, through which infertile couples are building the biogenetic families of their dreams. Rather than understanding assisted reproductive technologies through the “hyperbole of radical novelty” (Franklin, 2007), this research resituates them within older yet ongoing histories of empire, racial capitalism and heteropatriarchy. This project reconstructs the global history of transnational reproduction in Belgium and empirically maps the dis/continuities between older and newer technologies of transnational reproduction, using a cross-feminist perspective. This approach foregrounds the material-discursive life stories of “motherworkers”: the first mothers, surrogates and egg cell providers whose reproductive lives, bodies, biologies and labours have been made cheaply available on the reproductive market but whose narratives remain invisible. This project combines archival and ethnographic research at the Centre for Descent on three technologies of transnational reproduction in Belgium corresponding to the past, present and future: the forced transfer of Belgian Metis children, transnational adoption and surrogacy. In this way, it examines the con/divergences in the gendered and racialised regimes of 1) labour/extraction, 2) nature/biology and 3) kinship to which motherworkers were and are subjected.