Conceptualizing Declining Reproduction: exploring old and new fertilities within assisted reproduction in India

Hosted by Department of Sociology and Department of Gender

Robert McKenzie Room (S219), Department of Sociology, St Clement's Building


Anindita Majumdar

Anindita Majumdar

Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad

Anindita is interested in the meaning of age and ageing as they come to be understood within reproduction in India.

The focus is particularly on assisted conception, and the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as in-vitro fertilization to engage with the issue of reproductive temporality. In addition, the paper engages with existing field data on the process of becoming parents amongst couples of a particular age bracket in India, who are undergoing IVF treatment in North India. These couples are between the ages of 45-65 years, traditionally considered to be difficult for conception whether through sexual procreation, or artificial means such as assisted reproduction. However, the facilitation of pregnancy and birth amongst women, and their spouses within this age is being successfully conducted in some ART clinics in North India. This has meant that the idea of declining reproduction, most often represented with the moniker of the biological clock is under increasing scrutiny. To explore the imaginings of age, decline and reproduction, I study the ways in which: first, laws on reproduction, age of marriage, age of consent, assisted reproduction frame ageing and reproduction in India; second, the ways in which the demographic conversations on population and fertility are marked within popular discourse in India; and third, the relationship between menstruation and menopause within anthropological literature on India to understand the age and reproduction. The paper is embedded both within a theoretical conceptualization that aims to help make sense of the meaning of age and ageing as they come undone within assisted reproduction. The purpose of seeking a wider theoretical gaze through laws, legalese, popular discourse, and ethnographic studies of menstruation and menopause as key markers of age and reproduction, is to support and understand the dynamic nature of the field data that has been collected from North India on ageing couples bearing children, as well as the increasing intervention of technology on our bodies.

Anindita Majumdar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Liberal Arts at the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad.

Anindita Majumdar has been researching on commercial surrogacy, kinship and infertility since 2010. Her book based on her ethnographic research was published in 2017 by Oxford University Press, and is titled Transnational Commercial Surrogacy and the (Un)Making of Kin in India. Anindita was also recently invited to contribute to the Oxford India Short Introductions Series on Surrogacy, which was published in 2019. Anindita is currently researching and writing on the linkages between ageing and assisted reproductive technologies in India: including fieldwork in North India amongst post-menopausal couples who became pregnant through the use of assisted reproductive technologies. The research has been supported with a generous grant from Wellcome UK, along with a parallel research on the biological clock and infertility treatment in South India supported by the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR). 


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