“This work makes a significant contribution to the field of reproductive technology studies given its in-depth ethnographic research …a work of ethnographic and analytical excellence.” · Reviews in Anthropology
“This book is thorough..a comprehensive account of the complicated and at time ambivalent voices of women involved in donating and receiving ova. It will be useful for advanced undergraduate and graduate-level classes.” · Medical Anthropology Quarterly
“…an important contribution for anthropologists and those in [many] other disciplines…Konrad has managed to critically explicate the complex and intimate relationship that binds anonymous donor with anonymous recipient.” · American Anthropologist
“The comparative use of Melanesian ethnography and anthropological theorizing creates a challenging analytical undertaking in this [thought-provoking] study. This comparison draws on a well of different sources, starting with Malinowski and Mauss and ending up with Strathern.” · Anthropological Quarterly
“Konrad has produced an exceptionally interesting and totallyoriginal book ... a major contribution to social theory.” · Marilyn Strathern, Cambridge University
Based on the author's fieldwork at assisted conception clinics in England in the mid-1990s, this is the first ethnographic study of the new procreative practices of anonymous ova and embryo donation. Giving voice to both groups of women participating in the demanding donation experience – the donors on the one side and the ever-hopeful IVF recipients on the other – Konrad shows how one dimension of the new reproductive technologies involves an unfamiliar relatedness between nameless and untraceable procreative strangers. Offsetting informants’ local narratives against traditional Western folk models of the ‘sexed’ reproductive body, the book challenges some of the basic assumptions underlying conventional biomedical discourse of altruistic donation that clinicians and others promote as “gifts of life.” It brings together a wide variety of literatures from social anthropology, social theory, cultural studies of science and technology, and feminist bioethics to discuss the relationship between recent developments in biotechnology and changing conceptions of personal origins, genealogy, kinship, biological ownership and notions of bodily integrity.
Monica Konrad is a Bye-Fellow of Girton College and Director of the PLACEB-O Research Orbital at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge.