Gamete Donation and Kinship Knowledge in Germany and Britain

Maren Klotz


Maren Klotz

Distributed for Campus Verlag

383 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 3/8 | © 2014
Paper $56.00 ISBN: 9783593500676 Published August 2014
Openness about sperm and egg donation and the regulation of donor anonymity or non-anonymity are new phenomena. How do affected families, clinics, and regulators deal with information about gamete donors and the donation itself? And how does this knowledge management contribute to the creation and enactment of kinship? Addressing these questions in Germany and Britain, this ethnography makes a comparative contribution to the empirical and theoretical analysis of kin-formation and social change.

In (K)information, Maren Klotz presents a contemporary renegotiation of the values of privacy, information-sharing, and connectedness as they relate to the social, clinical, and regulatory management of kinship information. Transparency, not genetics, is the moral imperative, and instead of an unambiguously discernible “geneticization,” her findings on donor non-anonymity and parental openness display a pattern of “transparentization.” This pattern represents a shift in authority over kinship away from the sometimes highhanded reproductive medical profession towards concerned groups, parents-by-donation, and policymakers.


1. Introduction

2. Three Conceptual Arrival Scenes: Comparative Vantage Point, Kinship and Knowledge, Kinship Matters

Scene 1: Knowledge-Management During Gamete Donation as Policy Problem in Britain and Germany

Scene 2: Kinship and Knowledge in Anthropology

Scene 3: What’s the Matter with Kinship?

3. Fieldwork and Data Analysis

4. Knowing Kinship-by-Donation as Parents: Reflections and Histories

4.1 What is Kinship? Characteristic Tensions of Choice, (Corporeal) Continuity, and Love

4.2 Reproductive Histories and DI as a Technology of the Last Resort

5. Clinical Knowledge-Management and Beyond: How Kinship-by-Donation Becomes Constituted in Clinics

5.1 Local Fieldwork—Local Regulations

5.2 The Medical Trajectory of Knowing Kinship-by-Donation: The WHO standard, Viruses, and Excel Sheets

5.3 The Accessible Clinical/Institutional Trajectory of Knowing Kinship-by-Donation: Sealed Envelopes, Donor Files, and a National Registry

6. Familial Knowledge-Management: Emerging Canons and Parental Reflections

6.1 Normative Canons of Knowledge-Management

6.2 Familial Moralities of Knowledge-Management

7. Familial Knowledge-Management: Everyday Practices and Emerging Relations

7.1 Getting to Know the Donor: The Constitution of Administered Relations

7.2 Of Donors and Daddies, Fathers, (Co-)Mothers, Moms, and Mommies: Naming and Terminology Work

7.3 Telling the Child

7.4 Subversive Knowledge-Management and Wayward Relations

8. Familial Knowledge-Management: Confrontations and Tactics

8.1 Resemblance-Talk: “The old folks would always say ‘Just like Daddy,’ no matter how the child looks like”

8.2 Medical History: “Not that we’re aware of”

8.3 Kinship Terminology: “Will they meet their real father?”

8.4 Not Conforming to the Reproductive Norm: “Is it true that Jonas has two moms?”

8.5 Biological Reproduction as a Confirmation of Heterosexual Love and Virility: “Well done, nice shot!”

8.6 The Child Talks: “If we have eggs in the kitchen, we also need sperm for Daddy”

9. Conclusions

9.1 National and Transnational Regulation and the Constitution of Kinship-by-Donation

9.2 Transparentization

9.3 Diverse Fields of Authoritative Knowledge-Production

9.4 Agency and Reflexive Expertise


List of Figures



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