Sign up for our Email Newsletter Berghahn Books Logo

berghahn New York · Oxford

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Instagram
Conceiving Kinship: Assisted Conception, Procreation and Family in Southern Europe

View Table of Contents

Volume 9

Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality: Social and Cultural Perspectives

See Related
Anthropology Journals

Email Newsletters

Sign up for our email newsletters to get customized updates on new Berghahn publications.

Click here to select your preferences

Conceiving Kinship

Assisted Conception, Procreation and Family in Southern Europe

Monica M. E. Bonaccorso

176 pages, 10 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-112-7 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (October 2008)

ISBN  978-1-84545-113-4 $27.95/£22.95 Pb Published (October 2008)

eISBN 978-1-84545-867-6 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“…a fine example of how an anthropological approach, based on skilful ethnographic research, can illuminate the way kinship and family are understood in present-day culture…[The book] is an exemplary ethnography, building on previous works in this area and making advances in both methodology and theory.”  ·  Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale

"Conceiving Kinship provides intriguing and important insights into a period of rapid and unregulated development in assisted conception in Italy in the late 1990s. The book draws us into detailed and sensitive accounts of couples' intentions, assumptions and actions during a time of shifting expectations about parenthood and the ways that one might become a parent. Rich interview and conversational material is gathered from heterosexual as well as homosexual couples in relation to a wide range of assisted conception scenarios. This detailed ethnographic fieldwork, combined with a sustained analytical interrogation, makes for a significant contribution to the complex mosaic of practices and values which lie beneath the Euro-American kinship label. It is one which will become an important reference point for future debates about assisted conception in Europe and beyond."  ·  Robert Simpson, Reader, University of Durham


Conceiving Kinship is an in-depth journey, the first of its kind, into how heterosexual, lesbian and gay couples using programmes of gamete donation conceptualize and make Italian kinship. It explores the provision of treatment in clinical and non-clinical settings at a time when Italy was considered the 'Wild-West' of assisted conception. This compelling study provides a new perspective on hotly debated issues in kinship studies and the modern medical technologies; it offers fresh insights into longstanding questions of cultural continuities and discontinuities in European kinship.

Monica M.E. Bonaccorso is Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Durham, following a position as Affiliated Lecturer and Wellcome Trust Fellow in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.

Subject: Medical Anthropology Gender Studies and Sexuality
Area: Southern Europe




Chapter 1. Locating Conceiving Kinship: New Subjects, New Boundaries

  • Introduction
  • An Overview of Anthropological Enquiry into Assisted Conception
  • An Overview of Italian Anthropology

Chapter 2. Research in Place: Shifting Fields of Enquiry

  • Introduction
  • Multiple Investigations, Sites, Informants
  • Main Investigation
  • Comparative Investigation
  • Collateral Investigation

Chapter 3. Heterosexual Couples: Life Plans, Irreversible Infertility and the Choice of a Programme of Gamete Donation

  • A Case: Anna and Artificial Insemination by Donor
  • Introduction
  • Planning Our Life, Planning Our Children
  • Discovering Irreversible Infertility
  • Choosing a Programme of Gamete Donation
  • Normalizing Gamete Donation
  • Do It Quickly (and It Lasts Forever)

Chapter 4. Heterosexual Couples: Gamete Donation, Donors and Biogenetic Make-up

  • A Case: Matilde and Egg Donation
  • Introduction
  • Infertile Couples, Biological Inheritance and Biogenetic Make-up
  • Couples' Perception of Donors and Donation
  • Good Intentions, Gifts and Donors' Displacement

Chapter 5. Heterosexual Couples and Clinicians: Strategies in Private Clinics of Assisted Conception

  • Extract from Field Notes: at Lunch with Clinicians
  • Introduction
  • The Provision of Services in Private Clinics of Assisted Conception
  • Life around Clinics and Clinicians: Trust, Faith and Dependency
  • The Hyper-medicalized Infertile Couple
  • Managing Recurrent Failure in the Clinic
  • Getting to Understand Programmes of Gamete Donation
  • The Work of Kinship in the Clinic

Chapter 6. Lesbian and Gay Couples Making Families by Donation

  • A Case: a Lesbian Couple Planning a Family by Donation
  • Introduction
  • Lesbian and Gay Couples: Planning a Life Together
  • Planning Families
  • Rethinking Motherhood and Fatherhood
  • The Lesbian and Gay Way: The Procreative Project
  • The Lesbian and Gay Way: Practices of Inclusion
  • The Lesbian and Gay Way: Practices of Relatedness

Chapter 7. The Traffic in Kinship: Southern Europe and Euro-America

  • Introduction
  • Ethnographic Reflections: Some Key Notions
  • Programmes of Gamete Donation: Challenging (in Principle) the 'Model' Italian versus Euro-American Kinship: Generalizing the 'Model'

A Concluding Note: Conceiving Kinship

Appendix I: Assisted Conception in Italy: A Legislative and Political Controversy, 1996-99

  • Towards a Unified Text: Political Controversies over Legislation
  • The Death of the Unified Text: The Rise of a New Controversy
  • The Political Project Behind Assisted Conception, 1996-99

Appendix II: Profile of Infertile Heterosexual Couples

Appendix IIa: Profile of Lesbian and Gay Couples


Back to Top