Transnational biopolitics and family-making in secrecy : an ethnography of reproductive travel from Turkey to Northern Cyprus
Author(s)Mutlu, Burcu,Ph. D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Ethnography of reproductive travel from Turkey to Northern Cyprus
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society.
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This dissertation is an ethnographic study of reproductive travel between Turkey and Northern Cyprus. Based on interviews and observations primarily carried out in a private In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) clinic in Northern Cyprus, between November 2014 and January 2016, it investigates how and why Turkish couples travel to the Turkish-speaking part of the island of Cyprus to access biomedical reproductive services - namely, donor gametes and sex selection through pre-implantation genetic diagnosis - that are legally unavailable in Turkey. By combining anthropology of secrecy with feminist studies of assisted reproductive technologies, this dissertation argues that Turkey's ban on gamete donation has helped to normalize IVF in the country by reinforcing the heteronormative nuclear family ideal: that is, if gamete donation is unavailable to Turkish people, then married couples who conceive using IVF are presumed to be genetically related to their children.However, I argue further that this normalization of IVF is only able to rest upon the national ban on gamete donation so long as access to donor gametes continues to be available - transnationally and clandestinely facilitated through a network of inter-clinical and inter-lab relations between Turkey and Northern Cyprus that have been formed over the last decade. In other words, these travels constitute a discursive and geographical space at the margins of, but fully integral to, Turkish reproductive biopolitics, in which secrecy is essential to diverse actors (including couples, egg donors, clinics, and the Turkish state) for multiple reasons. This ethnographic study of reproductive travels connecting Turkey and Northern Cyprus complicates the familiar analysis of transnational reproductive inequalities by demonstrating the plurality of Turkish experience. In doing so, it also extends the non-western scope of anthropological studies of transnational reproductive travel.By adding a transnational dimension to the study of national reproductive politics, this dissertation reveals the ways in which Turkey's current ideological, social and economic transformations shape the dynamics for the materialdiscursive (re)making of borders and boundaries of both Turkish families and the Turkish-nation in the Northern Cypriot IVF clinics.
Thesis: Ph. D. in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Program in Science, Technology and Society, 2019Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 318-333).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Program in Science, Technology and Society.