Academic journal article Italian Sociological Review

It Is Not Mine. Surrogacy between Natural Body and Artificial Body

Academic journal article Italian Sociological Review

It Is Not Mine. Surrogacy between Natural Body and Artificial Body

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

Individuals have become overloaded with responsibilities towards themselves as a result of social instability caused by rapid change and the destruction of fixed points of reference in their lives, with a subsequent loss of the traditional historical continuity (Beck, 2000) and the disappearance of symbolic and normative references (Crespi, 2004; Pulcini, 2001). This has transformed the construction of the self into a rootless process that develops in unstable random steps. As Bauman states (1998), the points of reference in our world are attached to wheels in motion, as identity is no longer a preestablished permanent condition. Instead, it has become the result of an increasingly individualized task (Crespi, 2004); work on the self is now seen as a personal project.

The privatization of everyday battles has made individuals more and more responsible for their choices (Bauman, 2002) in a process that encourages self-care and attention focused on personal lifestyle behaviour, thereby creating an implosion mechanism between the world of health and the consumer world. The imperfection of a body, which actually defines its unique nature, has to be obliterated in the quest for a body without limits or flaws. As individuals refuse to live with their bodily weaknesses (MacIntyre, 2001), bodies are increasingly subject to modification. Just as diseases are contained or eradiated, so must shortness, ugliness and obesity - to name but a few phenomena - be expunged as bona fide disabilities (Sandel, 2007). Relentlessness towards the body by purging it of imperfections is an individual's attempt at self-improvement.

This forms the backdrop for surrogacy, which is an example of an instrument aimed at overcoming bodily limits, in this case in terms of the inability to conceive children.

In this respect, surrogacy has altered the concept of the (biological) human body in its anatomical conformation with certain implications in the field of culture. In particular, the practice has changed the concept of the body by revealing the natural body-artificial body dichotomy. The former is defined as a body that is naturally able or unable to become pregnant, while the latter is the surrogate mother's body that experiences the pregnancy.

If we assume that all forms of assisted procreation are an attempt to defeat infertility and overcome the limit of being unable to conceive a child naturally, do these techniques help to create an artificial body?

The result of this process is a 'new' body. On one hand, there is one's own body, whose flaws the individual strives to remove (using assisted procreation techniques), while on the other hand there is someone else's body (in cases of surrogacy). In this way, as in virtual reality, where the dominant reality crumbles and is revived under the effect of simulation, the body is transformed into a new artificially produced body. How much distance is there between the body that conceives and the natural body?

In keeping with the thinking of Baudrillard, one of the leading sociologists in the analysis of the virtual world and the process of simulation, to what extent does the body that 'we create ourselves' remain the 'original body' and to what extent does it eliminate the original form?

2.The simulacrum as a performing form and the artificial body. The theoretical point of view

Guided by the concept of the simulacrum, Jean Baudrillard provided an interpretation of postmodern manifestations of the dominance of the virtual and the artificial.

In Baudrillard's perspective, the fundamental dichotomy that made it possible to assess the authenticity of every relationship is no longer valid. This lack of a connection between true and false is the key for interpreting and explaining the social changes underway, the result of the development of the world of communication and technology (Baudrillard, 1996, 2007; Kellner, 2007, Bellasi, 1977).

The cornerstone of the process of simulation - the elimination of the original that gives rise to the simulacrum - causes the implosion of the false copy, the reproduced copy, and its original referent, thereby leading to the collapse of the boundaries separating the true (the real) from the false (its copy) (Baudrillard, 1974, 1977, 2007; Klossowsky, 1981). …

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