On the Fringe of Parenthood: Othering and Otherness in the Italian Assisted Kinship

Laura Lucia Parolin, Manuela Perrotta


In the last few decades, fundamental changes have occurred in Italian society, particularly in the fields of reproduction and family models. Yet, despite these changes, the Italian law regulating assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) restricts provision of fertility treatments to “stable heterosexual couples” who are clinically infertile. Italian regulations on ARTs are embedded in the production of a new form of “othering”, through the definition of which categories of parents are acceptable and which are not.In this article, we will take into account both the process of othering as the macro-discourse that defines what can be considered a “family” and the intended parents’ individual forms of positioning in otherness. We will use the concept of othering from a double perspective: on the one hand, focusing on the macro-discourses in which power is assumed to lie in the hands of the powerful; on the other, investigating how otherness is performed by marginal persons. On the basis of the analyses of the Italian public debate on ARTs and of twelve interviews with patients who had experienced assisted kinship from the margins we will illustrate how  the production of “otherness” is not only related to a legal framework, but rather to a dominant rhetoric of what is supposed to be a “real” family.

Keywords: Reproductive Citizenship, Othering, Parenthood, Assisted Kinship

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15167/2279-5057/ag.2012.1.2.26


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