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India Research Centre

Michaela Stockey-Bridge

PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology

A central aim of my thesis at this early stage is to explore the ideas of objectification, exploitation and commodification that have led many Western countries to ban commercial surrogacy. Are these laws just and reasonable or do they simply export the ethical dilemmas to enable laissez-fair commercial surrogacy in the global south? This project aims to explore the current situation through a closer understanding of Australian couples who use commercial surrogacy in India. The study will not confine itself to the Australian couples, but examine the total situation, which will involve the surrogate mother in India, her experience, and the perception of her experience by the Australian couple. This project will also aim to gain insight into how commercial surrogacy as a form of medical tourism adds to our understanding of the globalization of maternity.

I spent seven weeks conducting research in Mumbai and Pune funded by a large design company during my undergraduate degree.  This brief stay was a tantalising taster of India and I hoped to return in the future. I am now planning my return to India, this time with my partner and children to carry out fieldwork that will aim to gain insight into surrogacy, an emerging economic sector of medical tourism in India that is attracting a significant number of intended parents from Australia.