Carolin Schurr is professor of Social and Cultural Geography at the University of Bern. She is the principal investigator of the SNSF project "Reproductive Geopolitics" project. MORE
Laura Perler is a postdoctoral researcher in Social and Cultural Geography at the University of Bern. In her research she investigates inequalities in relation to reproductive technologies and the Swiss asylum system. MORE
Nora Komposch is a PhD student and assistant in Social and Cultural Geography at the University of Bern. She researches about migrant workers in Spain's strawberry industry. MORE
Mirko Winkel is the coordinator of the mLAB. The artist and curator teaches at the University of Bern and other places with the aim of synthesizing art with scientific research and socio-political concerns.
Yolinliztli Pérez-Hernández is a PostDoc in Social and Cultural Geography. She researches the experiences of sterilization (tubal ligation and hysterectomy) of low-income, rural, peasant, and indigenous Mexican women as part of national family planning and global birth control policies in developing countries. MORE
Milena Wegelin is a social anthropologist and research associate at the Department of Perinatal and Maternal Health of the Bern University of Applied Sciences. Sie is collaborating with Laura Perler in her subproject “Governing and Contesting In/fertility within the Swiss Asylum Context”
Susanne Schultz is lecturer at the Department of Sociology at the Goethe University Frankfurt a.M. She is a visiting researcher who collaborates with the team of the project „Reproductive Geopolitics“ with a SNSF Scientific Exchange Grant in 2023. MORE
Veronika Siegl, holding a PostDoctoral position in Social and Cultural Geography, is a social anthropologist and gender researcher. Her research focuses on ethics, inequality and self-determination in the context of reproductive medicine. MORE
Governing and Contesting In/Fertility within the Swiss Asylum Context
Reproductive Justice: A Feminist Concept in Motion
Gendering and Racializing In/fertility among Marginalized Women in Mexico
The Reproductive Geopolitics of Spain’s Strawberry Industry
The Invisible – Modern Slavery in Europe
Intimate Strangers: Commercial Surrogacy in Russia and Ukraine and the Making of Truth
Short Film Program: Reproductive Justice
Making Babies. Egg Donation and the Politics of Reproduction.
Exhibition: Making Babies in Bern
Elusive Exposures Event Series
Exhibition: Making Babies in Berlin
"Making Babies?" Panel Discussion Video
In Ukraine and Russia, surrogacy is seen as work
WOZ – Solidarität im Zeichen der Erdbeere
Erkenntnis als kollektiver Prozess
Bi aller Liebi... So kann und will ich nicht schwanger werden
Eierstock mit Beinen?
Als Julie ging, ihre Eizellen einzufrieren
Podcast: La selección genética en la clínica de fertilidad: tendencias presentes y futuras.
Deutschlandfunk – Erst die Technologie, dann die Ethik?
Bayern 2 debattiert: Eizellenspende - Was würde eine Legalisierung bedeuten?
Blick – Nachfrage nach Leihmüttern steigt
Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik – Das Geschäft mit dem Kinderwunsch
RaBe – Ausstellung «Babys machen»
WOZ – Der Begriff «Spende» führt in die Irre
L’autoconservation des ovocytes, une réponse médicale à un problème social ?
SRF – Für das Wunschkind nach Spanien
SRF – Leihmutterschaft: pro und contra
Frankfurter Rundschau – Gibt es ein Recht auf ein Kind?
Governing in/fertile bodies in Mexico’s past and present
Der Bund – eine Legalisierung stoppt den Reproduktionstourismus nicht
ZDF – Müssen wir die Eizellenspende legalisieren?
RBB – Eizellenspende: Zwischen Verbot und realer Anwendung
Zeit online – "Sie wollen die Eizellspende legalisieren, ohne die Details zu klären"
Tagesanzeiger – Eine Legalisierung stoppt den Reproduktionstourismus nicht
SRF – Geschichten hinter den Spenderinnen
Welt – Was mit den Babys von Leihmüttern im Krieg passiert
20minuten – Schweizer Eltern bangen um Leihmutter-Babys aus der Ukraine
DW Deutsch – Ukrainische Leihmütter im Krieg
Leihmutterschaft in Zeiten des Krieges
Peripartale Gesundheit asylsuchender Frauen in der Schweiz: who cares?
Erschwerter Zugang zu Verhütung in den Asylzentren: Perspektiven von geflüchteten Frauen in der Schweiz
Governing in/fertile bodies in Mexico’s past and present
Globale Intimität multisensorisch erforschen und ausstellen
Egg freezing, genetic relatedness, and motherhood:A binational empirical bioethical investigation of women's views
Imagining Motherhood and Becoming a Mother After Egg Freezing. An Anthropological Study in the French Context
Exploring Medical Egg Freezing as a Disease Management Strategy
Exhibiting Toxicity: Sprayed Strawberries and Geographies of Hope
Book Review: Intimate Geopolitics: Love, Territory, and the Future on India’s Northern Threshold
Intimate Technologies: Towards a Feminist Perspective on Geographies of Technoscience
Selective Assisted Reproduction
Book Review: Freezing Fertility: Oocyte Cryopreservation and the Gender Politics of Aging.
Spain's Reproductive El Dorado. The Economization of Spanish "Egg Donation"
Feminist Geographies of Technosciences
Transnational Reproductive Mobility from Switzerland
The Promise of a Healthy Child. An Analysis of the Spanish Egg Donation Economy.
Intimate Lives in the Global Bioeconomy: Reproductive Biographies of Mexican Egg Donors
The Affective Economy of Transnational Surrogacy
The Baby Business Booms: Economic Geographies of Assisted Reproduction
Multiple Mobilities in Mexico’s Fertility Industry
From Biopolitics to Bioeconomies: The ART of (Re-) producing White Futures in Mexico's Surrogacy Market
The Reproductive Geopolitics of Spain’s Strawberry Industry
Migrant farm workers, mostly from Morocco, work in Huelva’s strawberry fields under poor conditions to harvest fresh fruit for all of Europe (Pinto 2021). The strawberry workers not only receive poor wages, work long days and are provided with inadequate work equipment, but they are exposed to major reproductive health risks on a daily basis. Pesticide use as well as psychological and sexual harassment at work impact the health of female farm workers (Barbour and Guthman 2018; Guthman 2019; Holmes 2013; Müller and Servel 2020; Veillerette and Lauverjat 2013; Wells 1996). Due to the labour migration regime e.g. between Morocco and Spain, Moroccan women who work in Huevla’s strawberry fields all have children (Hellio 2013). This labour migration policy has primarily geopolitical reasons: through women’s care obligations in Morocco, Morocco guarantees that the seasonal workers will return home after the labour in the berry fields is finished.
In Spain’s view, there are hence less of a threat to demographical anxieties in Spain which predict that the migrant population grows faster than the Spanish one in the future that fuel racist and right-wing attacks against the migrants working in the strawberry industry. At the same time, Spanish employers who own the strawberry farms fear less resistance from female workers from Morocco due to their family dependencies and financial pressures to sustain their families with remittances. Looking at the intersections of migration, labour, health and environmental policies, the subproject seeks to show how this particular labour migration regime relies on a form of invisibilized population politics as only certain bodies in terms of gender, nationality, ability and family status are granted access to work as migrant workers while at the same time, they are denied to carry out any form of care work for their own children while being employed as workers in Spain. Harmful working conditions, abuse, and a lack of access to reproductive health care denies them their right of reproductive autonomy and to pursue their reproductive desires.
So far, research has focused on the poor working conditions and circular migration of Moroccan women in Huelva’s strawberry industry (de Castro, Reigada, and Gadea Montesinos 2019; Hellio 2013, 2014, 2016; Hellio and Moreno Nieto 2018; Moreno Nieto 2013; Moreno Nieto and Hellio 2012; Reigada 2017). The diverse linkages between working conditions, the circular migration, and the reproductive lives of the working women, however, have scarcely been studied. Thus, the project aims to examine the reproductive geopolitics that sustain Spain’s transnational strawberry industry. It examines how women workers experience and deal with the impacts of their harsh physiological, psychological and environmental working conditions on their family lives and reproductive health. It further explores, how NGOs, unions, and transnational actors negotiate and create resistance against the effects poor working conditions and exposure to toxins has on women workers’ reproductive health and asks which actors on which political scale should be held accountable for the human rights violations taking place on a daily basis in the fields.
Following female worker’s journeys across space, scale, and time, Nora Komposch spends in total eight months of ethnographic research in the strawberry fields, clinics, and health care institutions, both with the women themselves as well as nurses, midwifes, politicians, and NGO and union staff in Spain and Morocco. Women’s reproductive biographies and their concrete experiences are captured with various affectual methods, such as body mapping (Gastaldo et al. 2012), depending on the women’s individual preferences. Through this multi-sited ethnography, the subproject seeks to understand how working arrangements in Huelva’s strawberry industry and the circular migration of seasonal workers are entangled with transnational population policies, family planning programs, and feminist struggles for reproductive justice.
(Photography by Lucy Sabin)
Barbour, Madison, and Julie Guthman. 2018. “(En)Gendering Exposure: Pregnant Farmworkers and the Inadequacy of Pesticide Notification.” Journal of Political Ecology 25(1).
de Castro, Carlos, Alicia Reigada, and María Elena Gadea Montesinos. 2019. “The Devaluation of Female Labour in Fruit and Vegetable Packaging Plants in Spanish Mediterranean Agriculture.” Organization 27:135050841988338. doi: 10.1177/1350508419883387.
Gastaldo, Denise, Lilian Magalhães, Christine Carrasco, and Charity Davy. 2012. “Body Mapping | Migration as a Social Determinant of Health.”
Guthman, Julie. 2019. Wilted: Pathogens, Chemicals, and the Fragile Future of the Strawberry Industry. Vol. 6. 1st ed. University of California Press.
Hellio, Emmanuelle. 2013. “”We Don’t Have Women in Boxes’.” Pp. 141–57 in Seasonal Workers in Mediterranean Agriculture: The social costs of eating fresh, edited by J. Gertel and S. R. Sippel. London and New York: Routledge.
Hellio, Emmanuelle. 2014. “Importer Des Femmes Pour Exporter Des Fraises ? : Flexibilité Du Travail, Canalisation Des Flux Migratoires et Échappatoires Dans Une Monoculture Intensive Globalisée : Le Cas Des Saisonnières Marocaines En Andalousie.” These de doctorat, Nice.
Hellio, Emmanuelle. 2016. “‘They Know That You’ll Leave, like a Dog Moving onto the next Bin’: Undocumented Male and Seasonal Contracted Female Workers in the Agricultural Labour Market of Huelva, Spain.” in Migration and agriculture. Mobility and change in the Mediterranean area, edited by A. Corrado, C. De Castro, and D. Perrotta. Routledge.
Hellio, Emmanuelle, and Juana Moreno Nieto. 2018. “Les fruits de la frontière.” Plein droit n° 116(1):31–34.
Holmes, Seth M. 2013. Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies. University of California Press.
Moreno Nieto, Juana. 2013. “Migrations Saisonnières á Travers Les « contrats d’origine.” in Expériences du genre. Intimités, marginalités, travail et migration, edited by M.-P. Anglade, L. Bouasria, M. Cheikh, F. Debarre, V. Manry, and C. Schmoll. Paris-Casablanca: Le Fennec-Khartala.
Moreno Nieto, Juana, and Emmanuelle Hellio. 2012. “Las jornaleras de la fresa en Andalucía y Marruecos. Hacia un análisis feminista de la globalización agroalimentaria.” Retrieved January 19, 2021 (https://www.soberaniaalimentaria.info/numeros-publicados/61-numero-30/480-las-jornaleras-de-la-fresa-en-andalucia-y-marruecos).
Müller, Pascale, and Hélène Servel. 2020. “À Huelva, les fraises ont le goût de l’exploitation des femmes.” Axelle Mag. Retrieved January 29, 2021 (https://www.axellemag.be/a-huelva-exploitation-des-femmes/)
Pinto, Ana. 2021. “Las manos que alimentan el mundo son invisibles y están explotadas.” Retrieved February 15, 2021 (https://poderpopular.info/2021/02/15/ana-pinto-las-manos-que-alimentan-el-mundo-son-invisibles-y-estan-explotadas/).
Reigada, Alicia. 2017. “Policies, Economic Forces, Class Relations and Unions in Spain’s Strawberry Fields.” E.Paul Durrenberger (Eds.) Uncertain Times: Anthropological Approaches to Labor in a Neoliberal World. Colorado: Colorado University Press.
Veillerette, François, and Nadine Lauverjat. 2013. “EXPPERT 2 : Des Perturbateurs Endocriniens dans des fraises.” Générations Futures. Retrieved January 21, 2021 (https://www.generations-futures.fr/publications/perturbateurs-endocriniens-dans-des-fraises/).
Wells, Miriam J. 1996. Strawberry Fields: Politics, Class, and Work in California Agriculture. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press.