Surrogacy & Ectogenesis: foetal commodities and mother-machines

Surrogacy & Ectogenesis: foetal commodities and mother-machines

Miss Josephine RodgersZoom

Will we still need to be pregnant in the future? Depicting the development of artificial wombs alongside increased availability of surrogacy, near-future dystopian fictions provide a space to explore the outsourcing of pregnancies away from the parental body. In these futures of displaced pregnancies, the surrogate body and the artificial womb are both understood as empty and inert spaces, which function as sites for production in the pregnancy industry. The surrogate as an individual, and as a human component within pregnancy, becomes invisible as she is mechanised into the mother-machine.

This paper will use explore the figure of the mother-machine in contemporary representations of surrogacy and ectogenesis, using texts such as Joanne Ramos’s The Farm (2019), Meg Elison’s Hysteria (2017) and Ayşe Devrim’s No Comment (2017). Depicting increasing commercialisation and mechanisation of the reproductive process, these fictions explore pregnancies in which the mechanised or invisible mother produces a foetal commodity. Despite the significant financial value placed upon the baby born from surrogacy or ectogenesis, their tightly controlled gestation frames this baby as a made-to-order luxury product. This paper will examine these near-future reproductive rights dystopias as sites for imagining the foetus as biocapital, alongside the disruption and erasure of the pregnant human body.

University of Leeds, UK
Fri 09:30 - 11:00
Maternity and Childbirth, Mental Health
Standard paper