This introductory chapter sets out the purpose of the book, which is to take a fresh look at surrogacy and attempt to rethink what we know about this reproductive practice by taking the experiences of persons immediately involved in it at face value, and trying to understand what surrogacy means to them, in their own words. This book is first and foremost an in-depth ethnography of the complex “ontological choreography” of surrogacy arrangements, a metaphor Thompson formulated to describe the “materiality, structural constraint, performativity, discipline, co-dependence of setting and performers, and movement” involved in assisted reproduction. It is also an anthropological intervention into wider debates about motherhood, kinship, embodiment, and the natural. The chapter then discusses surrogacy as a cultural anomaly, the cultural politics of surrogate motherhood, and structures of surrogacy. An overview of the four parts of the book is also presented.
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