Cosmopolitan Conceptions

IVF Sojourns in Global Dubai

Cosmopolitan Conceptions

Book Pages: 408 Illustrations: 25 illustrations Published: August 2015

Anthropology > Medical Anthropology, Medicine and Health > Global Health, Middle East Studies

In their desperate quest for conception, thousands of infertile couples from around the world travel to the global in vitro fertilization (IVF) hub of Dubai. In Cosmopolitan Conceptions Marcia C. Inhorn highlights the stories of 220 "reprotravelers" from fifty countries who sought treatment at a “cosmopolitan” IVF clinic in Dubai. These couples cannot find safe, affordable, legal, and effective IVF services in their home countries, and their stories offer a window into the world of infertility—a world that is replete with pain, fear, danger, frustration, and financial burden. These hardships dispel any notion that traveling for IVF treatment is reproductive tourism. The magnitude of reprotravel to Dubai, Inhorn contends, reflects the failure of countries to meet their citizens' reproductive needs, which suggests the necessity of creating new forms of activism that advocate for developing alternate pathways to parenthood, reducing preventable forms of infertility, supporting the infertile, and making safe and low-cost IVF available worldwide.


"Cosmopolitan Conceptions offers a fresh and much needed perspective on global infertility.... This book is a crucial read for those interested in the politics of reproduction, parenthood, kinship, globalization, the use of technologies, modernization, and the Middle East.... Inhorn has created a provocative account of infertile couples’ quests for a child, which not only contributes to scholarly discussions, but also to public debates about infertility and treatment and the global movement of knowledge and technologies." — Cortney Hughes Rinker, Middle East Journal

"This book truly does take the reader into the 'womb' of a cosmopolitan IVF clinic and the reprotravelers who are its clientele. It is a must read for students of anthropology, medicine, women’s history, whether or not they are involved in research on human reproduction. This is a must read for NGOs, ministries of health, medical practitioners, and others who are deeply committed, particularly in noncosmopolitan states, to working for the improvement of women’s maternal and reproductive health. I highly recommend this enlightening, ethnographically rich and deeply compassionate book." — Naomi M. McPherson, Anthropology Book Forum

"This outstanding and readable book is equally valuable for interdisciplinary scholars, global reproductive justice advocates, and infertility caregivers." — Laury Oaks, American Anthropologist

"What strikes me most, as an anthropologist also engaged in the uphill struggle of tracing varied global reproductive travel routes, is Inhorn’s uncanny ability to truly engage with her informants. She embodies the cultural cosmopolitanism of which she writes. Her empathic nature and ability to speak with couples from all over the world reveals her skills of engaging with people—the heart of the anthropological endeavor." — Amy Speier, Medical Anthropology Quarterly

"This is an accessible and passionate academic book which will be of interest for those interested in reproductive health and infertility, medical anthropology, or for those who wish to further their understanding of the contemporary Middle East." — Andrea Whittaker, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health

"This well-written and powerful book can and should be read by a wide audience." — Susie Kilshaw, Journal of International and Global Studies

"Inhorn has a sure grasp on global infertility issues and uses her rich empirical data to argue for better, and fairer, provision of ARTs across the world.... The great strength of Cosmopolitan Conceptions is Inhorn’s ability to give voice to her informants."
  — Katharine Dow, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"Cosmopolitan Conceptions is a groundbreaking contribution to ongoing discussions of globalized medicine, travel for reproductive care, and the multiple and complex modernities of the contemporary Middle East. Marcia C. Inhorn writes with great sympathy, valorizing the first-person rationalities, suffering, and aspirations of the people she interviewed. A very valuable book."
— Rayna Rapp, author of Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: The Social Impact of Amniocentisis in America

"The hope of becoming a parent sends men and women traveling to far-flung destinations like Dubai in pursuit of reproductive remedies. Medical anthropologist Marcia C. Inhorn, in the forefront of clinic-based ethnographic studies of infertility in the Middle East, examines both technological and moral issues surrounding choices to intervene, such as in vitro fertilization, egg and sperm donation, or surrogacy.  She convincingly demonstrates the ways in which fertility is not just a dream and hope, but the right of a biological citizen who demands medical redress for disability from the state." — Susan Slyomovics, author of How to Accept German Reparations


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Marcia C. Inhorn is William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs in the Department of Anthropology and The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University. She is the coeditor of Medical Anthropology at the Intersections: Histories, Activisms, and Futures, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Illustrations  ix

Prologue. Rahnia's Reproductive Journey  xi

Introduction. IVF Sojourns  1

1. Hubs: Medical Cosmopolitanism in the Emirates  35
Hubs: Reprotravel Stories  77

2. Absences: Resource Shortages and Waiting Lists  105
Absences: Reprotravel Stories  138

3. Restrictions: Religious Bans and Law Evasion  159
Restricitions: Reprotravel Stories  197

4. Discomforts: Medical Harm and the Search for High-Quality IVF  221
Discomforts: Reprotravel Stories  255

Conclusion. Cosmopolitan Conceptions  287

Acknowledgments  305

Glossory of Medical Terms  311

Notes  321

References  351

Index  371
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5933-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5913-5
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