Wombs in Labor

Transnational Commercial Surrogacy in India

Amrita Pande

Columbia University Press

Wombs in Labor

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Pub Date: September 2014

ISBN: 9780231169912

272 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£24.95

Pub Date: September 2014

ISBN: 9780231169905

272 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£74.95

Pub Date: September 2014

ISBN: 9780231538183

272 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£24.95

Wombs in Labor

Transnational Commercial Surrogacy in India

Amrita Pande

Columbia University Press

Surrogacy is India's new form of outsourcing, as couples from all over the world hire Indian women to bear their children for a fraction of the cost of surrogacy elsewhere with little to no government oversight or regulation. In the first detailed ethnography of India's surrogacy industry, Amrita Pande visits clinics and hostels and speaks with surrogates and their families, clients, doctors, brokers, and hostel matrons in order to shed light on this burgeoning business and the experiences of the laborers within it. From recruitment to training to delivery, Pande's research focuses on how reproduction meets production in surrogacy and how this reflects characteristics of India's larger labor system.

Pande's interviews prove surrogates are more than victims of disciplinary power, and she examines the strategies they deploy to retain control over their bodies and reproductive futures. While some women are coerced into the business by their families, others negotiate with clients and their clinics to gain access to technologies and networks otherwise closed to them. As surrogates, the women Pande meets get to know and make the most of advanced medical discoveries. They traverse borders and straddle relationships that test the boundaries of race, class, religion, and nationality. Those who focus on the inherent inequalities of India's surrogacy industry believe the practice should be either banned or strictly regulated. Pande instead advocates for a better understanding of this complex labor market, envisioning an international model of fair-trade surrogacy founded on openness and transparency in all business, medical, and emotional exchanges.
Wombs in Labor is an absorbing and meticulously researched work. Amrita Pande fruitfully scrutinises the minutiae of interactions among surrogates and the community of a clinic for their underlying meaning... recommended to anyone interested in the subject of surrogacy and will please all readers. LSE Review of Books
Wombs in Labor is an important book that sheds light on the workings of transnational commercial surrogacy in India.... This book is a valuable read for anyone interested in commercial surrogacy, global inequality and women's labor. Koh Sin Yee, Asian Review of Books
A theoretically sophisticated and nuanced ethnography of interest to scholars in South Asian studies, women's studies, reproductive health, and labor studies. Choice
At times heart-wrenching, Pande's ethnographic research provides a detailed and empathetic look at the business of India's surrogacy industry... Journal of International Womens Studies
an excellent contribution to undergraduate or graduate classes on globalization, reproduction, gender, or work. Anna Curtis, Gender and Society
a fascinating look at the world of the Indian surrogate and the choice she makes in an effort to better her and her family's economic status. Sarah Thomas, Journal of International Women's Studies
Wombs in Labor is foundational. Rajani Bhatia, Womens Review of Books
Wombs in Labor is a valuable and timely contribution to the steadily increasing scholarship on assisted reproductive technologies and is a fascinating addition to the anthropology of work. Anthropology of Work Review
A must-read for students of labor, gender, and reproductive politics. Sumit Guha, H-Asia
Acknowledgments
1. Introduction: Wombs in Labor
2. Pro-natal Technologies in an Anti-natal State
3. When the Fish Talk About the Water
4. Manufacturing the Perfect Mother-Worker
5. Everyday Divinities and God's Labor
6. Embodied Labor and Neo-eugenics
7. Disposable Workers and Dirty Labor
8. Disposable Mothers and Kin Labor
9. Conclusion: Aporia of Surrogacy
Epilogue: Did the "Sperm on a Rickshaw" Save the Third World?
Appendix A. Selected Clauses from the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Draft Bill
Appendix B. Consent Form to Be Signed by Surrogates
Appendix C. Descriptive Tables
Notes
Works Cited
Index

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Long-listed, 2017 ICAS Book Prize, International Convention of Asia Scholars

Commended, 2016 Honorable Mention – Adele E. Clark Book Award

About the Author

Amrita Pande is a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Cape Town. Her research focuses on the intersection of new technologies and reproductive labor, and her writings have appeared in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Gender and Society, Critical Social Policy, International Migration Review, Qualitative Sociology, Feminist Studies, the Indian Journal of Gender Studies, Reproductive BioMedicine, and in several edited volumes. She is also an educator-performer and is currently involved in a multimedia theater performance, Made in India: Notes from a Baby Farm, which is based on her ethnographic work on surrogacy.