New Books Network

The development of a whole suite of new reproductive technologies in recent decades has contributed to broad cultural conversations and controversies over the meaning...

The development of a whole suite of new reproductive technologies in recent decades has contributed to broad cultural conversations and controversies over the meaning of family in the United States. In Romancing the Sperm: Shifting Biopolitics and the Making of Modern Families (Rutgers University Press, 2018), Diane Tober analyzes how sperm donation fits into this larger landscape of reproductive choices, politics, and policies. Drawing on a rich body of interviews conducted in the 1990’s with people who worked at sperm banks, people who donated sperm, and people who sought to become pregnant by using donated sperm, she illuminates the many motivations that lead people to become involved in alternative processes of family formation. She also demonstrates that a certain kind of “romance” – that is, the imaginative creation of a romantic ideal – can still permeate people’s ideas and experiences of creating children with donor sperm, despite the medicalization of the process. This book will be useful not only for those who are interested in medical anthropology and the anthropology of reproduction, but also anyone who wants to rethink traditional notions of family formation.


Dannah Dennis is an anthropologist who studies citizenship, nationalism, and social media, primarily in Nepal. You can find her work at her website and her random musings on Twitter.