Communication ETDs

Publication Date



This study applied communication theory about the body, identity, and policy to analysis of the process of surrogacy in India. Using qualitative interview methods and discourse analysis, the study aims to increase understanding of how the process of transnational surrogacy emerges, and the impact it has on participants. Interviews were conducted in Ahmedabad, Anand, and Mumbai with doctors, health officials, surrogates, and activities. The interview data was used to answer four research questions that worked to identify how the process of surrogacy is communicated and enacted, how surrogates bodies are positioned, how surrogates construct their identities, and how policy constructs the rights of the individuals involved. The findings indicate that surrogacy is seen as a medical intervention, a commercial enterprise, and an altruistic exchange. Additionally, Balsamo's (1996) four post-modern body categories are used to understand the positioning of the surrogate's corporeal experience. Their responses revealed ways in which their bodies are laboring, marked, repressed, and disappearing in the surrogacy process. The surrogates' identities intersect around their roles as mothers, as earners, and as gift givers. Finally, the policy positions the commissioning parents and the healthcare providers in positions of power, while subjugating the surrogates in a way that limits their autonomy and agency. This study was important to expanding the use of communication theory in contemporary sites where the body is a vital source of knowledge. It also contributes to future studies that look at the cultural and individual implications of policy on lived realities. Finally, the study confirmed previous research that centers around intersectionality of identities in complex ways as they are embodied by individuals.




Transnational gestational surrogacy, identity, body, policy, discourse, feminist, surrogacy, India

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Pant, Saumya

First Committee Member (Chair)

Foss, Karen

Second Committee Member

Rao, Nagesh

Third Committee Member

Trinidad-Galvan, Ruth

Project Sponsors

University of New Mexico Office of Graduate Studies Research Projects and Travel Grant, University of New Mexico Feminist Research Institute, University of New Mexico Graduate and Professional Student Research Allocations Grant