Corinna Sabrina Guerzoni - Reasearcher at WFI

Corinna Sabrina Guerzoni - Reasearcher at WFI

Professor in Anthropology at Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan (Italy)

My name is Corinna Sabrina Guerzoni and I am a Professor in Anthropology at Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Milan – Italy, doing my postdoctoral research at Western Fertility Institute (California). In 2016, I was a Visiting Researcher at San Diego State University, Department of Women’s Studies (California). In 2017, I obtained my Ph.D. in Cultural and Social Anthropology at Milano-Bicocca University (Italy). In the same year, I received the VISA O-1a (Individuals with Extraordinary Ability) to conduct my 3 years postdoctoral research on surrogacy between USA and Europe.


2017 Ph.D. in Cultural and Social Anthropology, Milano-Bicocca University, Milan – Italy.
2016 Visiting Researcher at San Diego State University, San Diego – California.
2013 Master Degree in Anthropology, Milano-Bicocca University, Milan – Italy.
2010 Bachelor Degree in Science of Education, Milano-Bicocca University, Milan – Italy.


2017 Postdoctoral Researcher at Western Fertility Institute, Encino, California.
2017 Professor in Anthropology at IED, Istituto Europeo di Design, Milan – Italy.

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What led to the birth of this project is the willingness of both the researcher and the clinical team to offer new analytical tools to think critically about a phenomenon that is constantly revised and approaches to the users of the service in a completely new way. We want to produce a scientific knowledge on surrogacy. This will begin from the experience of the people involved in these journeys, surrogates, egg donors and intended parents.

The Surrogacy Pathways: An Anthropological Analysis

California is the global hub for assisted reproductive technology, practices which includes surrogacy and egg donation. Surrogacy is an agreement among indented parents (homosexuals or heterosexuals), an egg donor and a woman, the surrogate. Surrogacy is governed by contractual agreements. In the transnational surrogacy, it is more common that these agreements are stipulated when the parties are far, and when the Intended Parents (IPs) are back to their country. This process happens in different times and spaces: the parties usually use long distant communication and they stay in touch through social media, like e-mail, Skype call or text messages.

The study looks at commercial surrogacy used in the US by parents from different countries and of various sexual identities (e.g., heterosexual or gay). This includes, for example, gay fathers who travel for surrogacy to the US from Europe, as in most European countries the assisted reproduction technique (ART) is not recognized by law (Smietana M., 2016).

If surrogacy is governed by contractual agreements, what happens in the reality within a relationship between “perfect strangers”? I will analyze the pathways during the surrogacy agreements, documenting the journey of the people involved in the surrogacy. Since surrogacy is a path created by a plurality of subjects it will be studied involving all the parties who are connected through these experiences: intended parents, egg donors and surrogates. The expectations that both parties have would adapt with the reality that is composed by different variables, values, misunderstandings and so on.

This research focuses on evaluate the expectations and the journey, in order to create a debate on it.
This project aims to expand the knowledge of the phenomenon of surrogacy by identifying elements of innovation and continuity with respect to the state of the art on ARTs, from an anthropological point of view.

The main topics addressed (data collection):

  • The path of access into the practice of surrogacy for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Egg Donors.
  • Critical access for the actors involved in the project.
  • Critical aspects before/during/after the surrogacy.
  • Comparison between expectations and reality before and after the delivery by Intended Parents and Surrogates.
  • The negotiation of the relatedness between parties after the delivery.

This study is carried out between September 2017 and December 2020 under the direction of Dr. Ashim Kumar.


The research is built according to an ethnographic approach, with the aim of intercepting different levels of knowledge. Following the method of the postmodern anthropology, I will use interviews and the “observation of the participation” (Geertz, 1973), while at the same time, I will pursue a part of the research with a quantitative methodology and tools, useful to describe more general aspects of the surrogacy interactions.

The subjects involved in surrogacy (egg donors, surrogates, intended parents and clinicians) will be approached through:

  1. questionnaire, semi-structured and unstructured interviews;
  2. participant observation on site (surrogacy agencies, ARTs clinics, gay father associations);
  3. content analysis of the internet contents related to surrogacy used by the involved parties, drawing on visual anthropology.


My research entitled “The Surrogacy Pathways: An Anthropological Analysis” has been approved by Solution IRB, Protocol Number: 2017/12/17.



June 7, 2018
Commercial Surrogacy in the US: an Anthropological Analysis
University of Los Angeles – California.
Event organized by Bixby UCLA. Los Angeles, California.

ART Medical Anthropology

May 9, 2018
Lecture at University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy

Conference in Turin

April 19, 2018
Reproductive Inequalities: the case of the Italian Gay Parenting
at ESA Conference, University of Turin, Italy.

Conference in Rome

March 11, 2018
Gestazione per altre e per altri. Genitorialità tra desideri, diritti e doveri
Centro Congressi Frentani, Rome, Italy.

Conference in San Francisco

January 13-14, 2018

Phone (+1) 818-292-2242