Mendes, Ana Cristina and Lau, L (2019) A postcolonial framing of international commercial gestational surrogacy in India: Re-orientalisms and power differentials in Meera Syal’s The House of Hidden Mothers. Interventions, 21 (3). pp. 318-336. ISSN 1469-929X

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The branding and marketing of post-millennial India as a global service provider has been relentless. Indian cities have now been de-exoticized from their previous association to elephants, snake-charmers, and slums, and are now being marketed as the hub of Global North medical infrastructure and scientific advancement, at attractive Global South rates. Legalized only in 2002, international commercial gestational surrogacy (ICGS) in India, a lucrative niche market within the sector of medical and healthcare tourism, has been an industry worth US$ 2.3 billion annually at its peak. Now, however, it stands on the brink of being banned by a bill introduced in the Indian parliament in 2016. This essay advances the argument that the selling points of ICGS have been premised on structural and systemic inequalities of gender and class, as well as of biopolitical power. We further build on Graham Huggan’s early twenty-first-century thesis on the marketing of the postcolonial margins to explore the emergent gendered subjectivities and attendant fictional representations of ICGS and its various actors in the novel The House of Hidden Mothers (2015) by the diasporic British Indian author Meera Syal. Drawing on this novel, we map and examine the perceptions and representations of ICGS, investigating that which facilitates and promotes exploitation to deduce the resultant impact on the stakeholders and active agents in this industry in the space of India and in the West. The essay concludes that, seen through the lenses of re-orientalism, the exploitations within India’s ICGS are not merely along national or ethnic and gender lines, but also class based and geographically enabled.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final published version of this accepted manuscript is available online at
Uncontrolled Keywords: India; international commercial gestational surrogacy (ICGS); postcolonial literature; re-orientalism; Syal; Meera
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2019 11:24
Last Modified: 11 Feb 2021 10:54

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