Pregnant Metaphors and Surrogate Meanings: Bringing the Ethnography of Pregnancy and Surrogacy into Conversation in Israel and Beyond


This article explores the way that surrogacy and normal pregnancy share cultural assumptions about pregnancy. Through a juxtaposition of our ethnographic studies of two groups of Jewish–Israeli women—women who have undergone “normal,” low‐risk pregnancies and women who have given birth as gestational surrogates—we argue that surrogacy and pregnancy emerge as potent metaphors for one another. Both pregnant women and surrogates divided their bodies into two separate realms: fetus and maternal pregnant body. Both trivialized the effect of gestational influence on fetal health, making the fetus seem detached from gestational capacities of the mother. We argue for closer scrutiny of the way local cultural priorities and experiences of pregnancy shape surrogacy and for bringing the scholarship on pregnancy and on surrogacy into deeper conversation.