"Ontological Choreography" as an Ethnographic Tool

Understanding the Making of Families by Reproductive Technologies in Switzerland

  • Willemijn de Jong Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, University of Zurich
  • Nolwenn Bühler Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, University of Zurich
  • Yv E. Nay Center for Gender Studies, University of Basel
  • Kathrin Zehnder Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Zurich
Keywords: ontological choreography, reproductive technologies, family

Abstract

In this article the term "ontological choreography", coined by Charis Thompson, is used as a heuristic analytical device to grasp the different realities of reproductive technologies. The question is addressed as to whether this ethnographic tool is fruitful for understanding the making of families by heterosexual people and LGBTQ. Three case studies from a research project on fertility and family in the context of assisted reproduction in Switzerland reveal the fascinating complexities of temporal aspects of the ontological choreographies, but also some of their weaknesses as a tool. We propose to expand it by taking relationality and historical time into account.

Author Biographies

Willemijn de Jong , Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, University of Zurich

Willemijn de Jong is a retired associate professor and affi liated to the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies at the University of Zurich. She directed two SNSF projects on reproductive technologies, one of which was entitled Fertility and Family in Switzerland. Further, she has conducted research projects in Indonesia and India. Her publications are in the fi elds of kinship, gender and age studies, textile studies and ritual studies.

Nolwenn Bühler, Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, University of Zurich

Nolwenn Bühler worked for three years in the SNSF project Fertility and Family in Switzerland and spent a year in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department of the University of California Berkeley as a visiting researcher. She is currently finishing her PhD in the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies of the University of Zurich and is a lecturer in anthropology at the University of Neuchâtel.

Yv E. Nay, Center for Gender Studies, University of Basel

Yv E. Nay is an associate researcher and lecturer at the Center for Gender Studies at the University of Basel and a PhD student. She participated as a scholar in the SNSF research project Fertility and Family in Switzerland based at the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies at the University of Zurich. His research areas are gender and queer theory, affect theory, and transgender studies.

Kathrin Zehnder, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Zurich

Kathrin Zehnder was a researcher in the SNSF project Fertility and Family in Switzerland based at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Zurich. She holds a PhD in sociology from the University of Basel in the field of gender and intersexuality studies.

Published
2015-05-01
How to Cite
de Jong , Willemijn, Nolwenn Bühler, Yv E. Nay, and Kathrin Zehnder. 2015. “‘Ontological Choreography’ As an Ethnographic Tool: Understanding the Making of Families by Reproductive Technologies in Switzerland”. TSANTSA – Journal of the Swiss Anthropological Association 20 (May):84-96. https://doi.org/10.36950/tsantsa.2015.20.7435.