Representations of reproductive citizenship and vulnerability in media reports of offshore surrogacy
Riggs, Damien Wayne
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In his elaboration of the concept of ‘reproductive citizenship’, Turner (2001) suggested something of a homogeneous accumulation of cultural capital to those who make a reproductive contribution to contemporary western societies. The present paper takes up this suggestion and proposes that whilst reproduction is indeed a hallmark of contemporary citizenship, the cultural capital arising from this is still differentiated by mode of reproduction, with reproductive heterosex remaining the norm against which other modes are compared. This norm, it is suggested, produces what is termed here ‘reproductive vulnerability’, namely vulnerability arising from being located outside of the norm. Through an analysis of media representations of Australian people who have undertaken offshore surrogacy arrangements in India, the present paper demonstrates how reproductive vulnerability is highlighted only to be dismissed through recourse to the construction of those who undertake reproductive travel as agentic citizens. The paper concludes by considering what it would take for an ethics of reproductive travel to exist; one in which multiple, incommensurable vulnerabilities are taken into account, and the representation of which encourages, rather than inhibits, careful thought about the reproductive desires of all people.