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From Idea to Book- Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Sunni and Shia Perspectives

From Idea to Book is an occasional series in which Berghahn authors and Editors discuss the origins of their work. Here, Marcia Inhorn and Soraya Tremayne describe how the volume Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologieswhich was recently published by Berghahn, came about.

Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologiesis the result of a wonderful conference workshop, held from 18 to 20 September 2009 at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, on the theme of “Islam and the Biotechnologies of Human Life.” Following a day of public presentations, the contributors to this volume remained at Yale for an intensive, two-day workshop discussion of their conference papers, which have ultimately become the polished chapters of this edited volume.

To our knowledge, this volume is unique, for it represents the work of nearly all of those scholars whose research focuses on Islam and assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). Meeting (often for the first time), discussing our work, and producing this volume together has been an immensely rewarding experience. For us as co-conveners, the project and the process have been especially gratifying, for we have been able to bring together our junior colleagues, many of whom are producing nuanced, field-based research on ARTs in a variety of Islamic settings. As a result, all of the chapters in this volume can be said to be original, timely, and “cutting edge,” reflecting the rapidly evolving ART landscape in the Muslim world in the second decade of the new millennium.

At Yale, we were fortunate to be surrounded by an extraordinary group of colleagues and students in Middle East Studies, Islamic Studies, and medical anthropology. In the midst of their busy schedules, several of them accepted our invitations to serve as conference discussants. In this volume, we have chosen to publish the excellent section introductions provided by several of these fine Yale scholars.

Finally, we are very grateful to have worked together on this volume as co-editors and friends. Soraya is the founding director of the Fertility and Reproduction Studies Group in the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oxford. Soraya has been working for many years on reproductive health issues in Iran, and it was she who first introduced Marcia to the incredible developments in third-party reproductive assistance going on in that country. In February 2006, we both traveled to Iran to serve as keynote speakers in a conference on “Embryo and Gamete Donation,” which was simply fascinating. Since then, we have been close colleagues in our ART scholarship and in this book series on “Fertility, Reproduction, and Sexuality,” which Soraya founded at Berghahn. Sometimes in the academy, we are simply lucky to find true “intellectual soul mates.” We have been that, and much more, over the past decade. Thus, we are delighted to have published our first book together.