Conference Agenda

RS02_07: Motherhood and narratives
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Chaime Marcuello-Servos, UNIVERSIDAD DE ZARAGOZA
Location: UP.4.210
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road


“Mother Nature” and the Nature of Motherhood. Sociological Analysis of Two Contemporary Narratives

Antonio Camorrino

University of Naples Federico II, Italy

The phenomenon of gestational surrogacy “embodies” the complexity of late-modern society (Beck U.). The extraordinary enlargement of the technical universe challenges the relationship between human beings and nature, raising brand new issues, not only in this field. “Cosmic tasks” (Jonas H.), previously concerning the divine sphere, today can be the result of human choices. At stake, there seems to be the future of humanity.

In environmental terms – implications of Climate change, for example – or in terms of medical technology: in both cases we face with decisions involving the lives of individuals that, at the moment, can not answer for themselves. It is interesting that, in the case of “green” narratives, the claims of critical movements revolve around an evil technical dominion of an exploited environment – a maternal nature victim of a “male” domination – while, in the case of pro-surrogacy discourse, technoscience is the good instrument in order to achieve self-realization – a virtual mother temporarily victim of a natural deprivation.

In both narratives individuals act in the name of a very authentic feelings: the love of Mother Nature and the love of motherhood. In the former case, technoscience is condemned as a factor of corruption of an original purity, in the latter it is seen as the medium of emancipation from the unjust constrains of an ungenerous nature.

Showing why these two narratives, although apparently antithetical in their assumptions, are part of the same postmodern horizon of meaning, is the goal of this paper.

Feminism and the Contradictions of Motherhood

Consuelo Corradi

Lumsa University, Italy

Feminist theory has changed the world and deeply influenced sociological theory. The notions of power, gender, individual, self, patriarchy, cannot be discussed without reference to feminist theory, which was successful in influencing the ways sociologists investigate the welfare, family structure, work organization, political participation, leadership and much more.There are, however, crucial social issues on which feminist theory is weaker and internally divided. Surrogacy is the most recent.

The purpose of this paper is to review the concept of motherhood in feminist theory. Until surrogacy brought it to the fore, this concept was overlooked and criticized as a disembodiment of women, transforming their wombs as a “public place”, and as a historic construction of the bourgeoisie, enslaving women to their instincts. The paper will examine when and why motherhood, which is one of the most common experiences in the life of a woman and the basic desire from which infertility grief stems, was disregarded, and with what consequences. The contradictory relationship of feminism to motherhood will throw light on the final aim of the paper. This is to show how the recurring feminist conflict between advocates of women’s freedom and self-determination versus critics of commodification and oppression is actually underpinned by a limited and individualistic notion of power and empowerment.The international prestige of white feminism has spread this very notion worldwide, but it actually adopts the neoliberal language of choice, rights and self-determination while at the same time criticizing the neoliberal foundations of contemporary societies.

Surrogacy debate in Malta

Marceline Naudi, Gisella Orsini

University of Malta, Malta

Surrogacy is considered a sensitive and controversial topic and has created many discussions and diverging opinions throughout the years across the globe, including among feminists and LGBTIQ communities.

Malta’s context is quite unique in that it includes a strongly Catholic ethos (abortion is still illegal in Malta), LGBTIQ rights which are considered number 1 in Europe and beyond, and a vociferous women’s rights’ lobby which reflects divergent views on this issue. There is no legislation as such regulating surrogacy other than the Embryo Protection Act (2012) which prohibits this practice in Malta.

While amendments to this act were introduced in 2018, and clauses referring to surrogacy were part of the draft amendments, these were excluded in the final bill due to the storm of controversy raised. It was however announced at the time that altruistic surrogacy laws will be discussed in a separate act. Since then there has been no further public discussion.

Nonetheless, it is known that Maltese nationals have bypassed national legislation and made private agreements in countries where surrogacy is allowed, highlighting the grey areas in the existent legislation (or lack thereof), and the possible need to regulate this phenomenon.

This study will be exploring the opinions of the various interested parties (State, NGOs, others) in this debate through individual interviews, to attempt to untangle the arguments being used. It will also canvass the general opinion of the students of the University of Malta to help provide general background and context.

Surrogate motherhood in Mexico

Daniela Cerva, Manuela Pizaña

Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos, MEXICO, Mexico

This paper will present the results of the research in Mexico during 2018 and 2019. In Mexico, hiring wombs is part of the normative regulation of what we euphemistically name as “surrogate motherhood”, an ironic and even contradictory term since the woman will neither act as a mother nor surrogate functions; in addition, the local legal regulations -Tabasco and Sinaloa- that currently are insufficient and ambiguous, which have allowed the absence of real control over the registration of existing cases since its legalization.

This legislation has undergone modifications taking into account the national casuistic experience and international law, in a restrictive sense, thereby limiting possibilities and consequences that could be avoided since the beginning.

The National Supreme Court of Justice has recently granted recognition to agreements on surrogate motherhood and implicitly on the hiring of wombs; but it has not resolved the unconstitutional actions in this regard.

This phenomenon has enough reasons to be studied from a sociological perspective, considering critical points in the legal debate and public policies. The objective is to reveal that the practice of hiring wombs continues to date, meaning serious and flagrant violations of fundamental human rights of certain actors in the process, meaning, women, girls and children, prerogatives that collide against the interests of the alleged intended parents and the intermediary companies that are not always regular and willing to provide their services at all costs.

As a result, legal and social conflicts in the Mexican law persist, to which non are provided with adequate regulation in positive law.