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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Gender as a Category of Knowledge

Dr. des. Sven Bergmann

Dissertation project:

Circumvention Routes of Reproduction: An Ethnography of (Biomedical) Mobility and Practices
of Gamete Donation


Project Summary


My research project deals with (the development of) new reproductive mobilities concerning IVF

and gamete donation which circumvent national laws, restrictions to access, or waiting lists. Using a multi-sited ethnographical method, I study the configuration of different actors, artefacts, bodily

materials, and practices that are coordinated, synchronized, and choreographed within infertility

clinics. My data were collected while conducting fieldwork in IVF clinics located in both Spain and

the Czech Republic, as well as through visits to Danish sperm banks. Additional findings were

supplied by an analysis of interviews with patients, physicians, and other key actors. From an ethnographic and STS perspective, my dissertation focuses on emergent practices as (1) biomedical mobilities, (2) recruitment of gamete donors, (3) donor/recipient matching and classification practices, (4) laboratory practices, and (5) the role of kinship, gender, sexuality, and heredity in anonymous gamete donation.


Short Bio


Sven Bergmann studied cultural anthropology/European ethnology, Latin American studies and sociology in Frankfurt am Main. PhD in European Ethnology (2012). 2010-2012 Member of the DFG-Network “Economies of Reproduction”. September, 2011 – December, 2011 Research Fellow at the Max-Planck Institute for the History of Science. 2012-2015 Research Associate in the DFG-founded Research Group “Cultures of Madness” (Charité Berlin). Since 2016 Senior Researcher at the Department of Anthropology and Cultural Research at University Bremen. Research Projects: „Plastic as novel life form“, funded by VolkswagenStifung (2016-2017) &„Knowing the Seas as NatureCultures“ (2017-2018).

 Selected Publications


The Detachability of Reproductive Cells. On Body Politics in Sperm and Egg Donation. In: Biologics, A History of Agents Made From Living Organisms in the Twentieth Century, hg. v. Alexander von Schwerin, Heiko Stoff und Bettina Wahrig, London 2013. S. 105–119.

Resemblance That Matters. On Transnational Anonymized Egg Donation in Two European IVF Clinics. In: Reproductive Technologies as Global Form. Ethnographies of Knowledge, Practices, and Transnational Encounters, hg. v. Michi Knecht, Maren Klotz und Stefan Beck, Frankfurt a. M./New York 2012. S. 331–355.

Reproductive Agency and Projects. Germans Searching for Egg Donation in Spain and the Czech Republic. In: Reproductive BioMedicine Online 23 (5) 2011, S. 600–608.

Fertility Tourism. Circumventive Routes That Enable Access to Reproductive Technologies and Substances. In: Signs. Journal of Women in Culture and Society 36 (2) 2011. S. 280–289.

Assisted authenticity: Naturalisation, regulation and enactment of „race“ through donor matching. In: Kantsa et al. (eds.): (In)Fertile Citizens: Anthropological and legal challenges of assisted reproduction technologies. Mytilini, Greece, 2015, p. 231-246.


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