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Labor pains: An exploration of the complex roles of identity, the body, and policy in surrogacy discourses in India

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/11107

Labor pains: An exploration of the complex roles of identity, the body, and policy in surrogacy discourses in India

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Title: Labor pains: An exploration of the complex roles of identity, the body, and policy in surrogacy discourses in India
Author: Sandoval, Jennifer Aimee, April 28, 1980
Advisor(s): Pant, Saumya
Committee Member(s): Foss, Karen
Rao, Nagesh
Trinidad-Galvan, Ruth
Department: University of New Mexico. Dept. of Communication and Journalism
Subject(s): identity
body
policy
discourse
feminist
surrogacy
India
Transnational gestational surrogacy
LC Subject(s): Surrogate motherhood--India--Economic aspects
Surrogate motherhood--India--Psychological aspects
Surrogate motherhood--India--Social aspects
Intercountry adoption--Psychological aspects
Intercountry adoption--Social aspects
Degree Level: Doctoral
Abstract: This study applied communication theory about the body, identity, and policy to analysis of the process of surrogacy in India. Using qualitative interview methods and discourse analysis, the study aims to increase understanding of how the process of transnational surrogacy emerges, and the impact it has on participants. Interviews were conducted in Ahmedabad, Anand, and Mumbai with doctors, health officials, surrogates, and activities. The interview data was used to answer four research questions that worked to identify how the process of surrogacy is communicated and enacted, how surrogates bodies are positioned, how surrogates construct their identities, and how policy constructs the rights of the individuals involved. The findings indicate that surrogacy is seen as a medical intervention, a commercial enterprise, and an altruistic exchange. Additionally, Balsamo’s (1996) four post-modern body categories are used to understand the positioning of the surrogate’s corporeal experience. Their responses revealed ways in which their bodies are laboring, marked, repressed, and disappearing in the surrogacy process. The surrogates’ identities intersect around their roles as mothers, as earners, and as gift givers. Finally, the policy positions the commissioning parents and the healthcare providers in positions of power, while subjugating the surrogates in a way that limits their autonomy and agency. This study was important to expanding the use of communication theory in contemporary sites where the body is a vital source of knowledge. It also contributes to future studies that look at the cultural and individual implications of policy on lived realities. Finally, the study confirmed previous research that centers around intersectionality of identities in complex ways as they are embodied by individuals.
Graduation Date: July 2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/11107

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