Uneasy Thankfulness and the Dilemma of Balancing Partiality in Surrogacy Research

Siegl, Veronika (2019). Uneasy Thankfulness and the Dilemma of Balancing Partiality in Surrogacy Research. In: Stodulka, Thomas; Dinkelaker, Samia; Thajib, Ferdiansyah (eds.) Affective Dimensions of Fieldwork and Ethnography. Theory and history in the human and social sciences (pp. 87-96). Cham: Springer 10.1007/978-3-030-20831-8_8

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In ethnographic research, the dynamics between researcher and researched are particularly fragile. We seek an understanding that can only be achieved by forging bonds and building relationships of trust. And yet, at some point we have to withdraw, regain distance and critically evaluate what we have experienced – leading to an analysis that might not be in line with what our research participants hoped for or expected us to conclude. The field of commercial surrogacy is an especially delicate research site in this regard. Being associated with economic exploitation and moral decay, surrogacy is a highly contested practice. These factors make questions of access challenging: in exchange for granting access, actors in the field of assisted conception tend to expect surrogacy-friendly research and feel betrayed by critical analyses. My article zooms in on a conflict between myself and a research participant that reflected this dynamic and left me with a sense of “uneasy thankfulness”. Drawing on this case, I discuss how expectations are nurtured and shaped by complex and shifting power relations and how these influence the way we present ourselves to (potential) research participants.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Social Anthropology

Graduate School:

Graduate School Gender Studies

UniBE Contributor:

Siegl, Veronika


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




Theory and history in the human and social sciences






Veronika Siegl

Date Deposited:

13 Feb 2020 14:19

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:18

Publisher DOI:






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