Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Andrea Sankar


This dissertation is concerned with the lived experiences of ten women after having children with In Vitro Fertilization. I examine the reshaped subjectivities that emerge within the women’s everyday life experiences to deepen understandings of human agency by exploring the intersection of assisted reproductive technologies, cultural ideologies, and social interactions as components in the transformation of the women’s identity. The experience of in vitro fertilization offered a fertile place in which to examine the roles that social and interpretive practices play in constituting the subjective experience in recasting a women’s identity. The study design consisted of informant interviews and case studies using ethnographic methods to illustrate how social interactions, cultural ideologies, technologies, and personal experience all converge in how we think of key concepts of culture, agency, and subjectivity.

Findings explore how cultural ideologies of assisted conception inform notions of normalcy, influence subjectivity and new forms of sociality. For many women social networking has become a medium, to gain access to ART in the form of knowledge and support from other women who have shared similar life experiences. From this form of social support I explore the emergence of new socialities⎯virtual kinship.

The notion of normalcy is unpacked in the quest of parenthood, motherhood, kinship, and the rhetoric of success is scrutinized. The idea of success is unpacked to reveal the fragility of how women categorize success beyond assisted conception and how cultural ideologies inform their everyday practices. These findings may be useful to think about how reproductive technologies inform cultural practices and, in turn, affect human agency, providing a richer conception of human subjectivity especially relevant to the anthropology of agency.