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Changing (In)Fertilities



I am a senior research associate in ReproSoc, and I joined the group as a research associate in 2014. I have conducted qualitative and ethnographic research with gay men who create families through surrogacy and adoption in the UK, US and Spain. I work from the perspectives of the sociology of reproduction, queer kinships, queer reproductive justice, as well as race and whiteness studies.

In 2018, I co-edited, with Prof. Charis Thompson (UC Berkeley), a volume of Reproductive BioMedicine and Society Online, 'Making Families: Transnational Surrogacy, Queer Kinship and Reproductive Justice,' where we argued for reading queer kinship from the perspective of stratified reproduction and reproductive justice. Currently, I am writing up an ethnography of domestic and transnational gay surrogacy in the US, Transatlantic Transactions: Gay Men, Surrogacy and Queer Reproductive Justice.

Since 2020, I have also been conducting an interview study with gay men who have pursued altruistic surrogacy in the UK or compensated surrogacy overseas. My current research is part of ReproSoc's collaborative grant Changing (In)Fertilities, led by Prof. Sarah Franklin and Prof. Marcia Inhorn, and funded by the Wellcome trust (2018-2022). Within this project, I coordinate the 'LGBTQ+ (In)Fertilities' work package that focuses on changing fertility behaviours and perceptions among queer people. 

This follows on from my previous ethnographic study of transnational and domestic surrogacy pursued by European and American gay men in the US. I carried out this study as a postdoc at UC Berkeley (2014-2016) and Cambridge (2016-2017), funded by the Marie Curie fellowship I received from the European Commission for the project SurroARTs.

Prior to that, my PhD dissertation (University of Barcelona, 2012) looked at the social inclusion of families created through transnational adoption and surrogacy by gay men in Spain. Since then I have been collaborating with the AFIN research group at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.  

In 2021-2022, I co-convene the interdisciplinary research network Global Conversations Towards Queer Social Justice, with Dr Hakan Sandal-Wilson (University of Cambridge) and Dr Natasha Tanna (University of York), and with the support of the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) and lgbtQ+@cam. This builds on the conference 'Queering Authoritarianisms: Conflict, Resistance and Coloniality' we co-convened in 2021. Within this research network, I also draw on my earlier work on queer resistance to homophobic nationalisms, which I began as an undergrad student at the Jagiellonian University's Sociology Department in my native Kraków (Poland). I continue this work within the Reproductive Righteousness project in ReproSoc.

My interests and upcoming projects also turn towards multi-species reproductive justice, which includes relationships between species in human and nonhuman reproduction, queer ecologies and critical animal studies. 

Within the Sociology Department at Cambridge, I have been teaching on Sociology of Gender (Soc 10), Sociology of Health and Illness (Soc 13), Concepts and Arguments in Sociology (Soc 4), as well as within the MPhil in Health, Medicine and Society. I have been supervising and co-supervising undergraduate, MPhil and PhD dissertations on reproductive technologies, reproductive justice, LGBTQ+ families and queer kinships, the politics of sexuality and race, and species and veganism.

Since 2016, I have been running an online community forum called Surrogacy Researchers, which I set up in order to gather together people doing surrogacy research across the globe. It currently includes 120 scholars from all over the world and it provides a forum for ongoing discussion and exchange. If you do any research related to surrogacy, do join in!


Key publications: 

Twine, France Winddance and Smietana, Marcin. 2021. The Racial Contours of Queer Reproduction. In: Sallie Han and Cecília Tomori (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Anthropology and Reproduction, pp. 285-304. Routledge.

Smietana, Marcin; Rudrappa, Sharmila and Weis, Christina. 2021. Moral frameworks of commercial surrogacy within the US, India and RussiaSexual and Reproductive Health Matters, 29(1): 1-17. DOI: 10.1080/26410397.2021.1878674.

Smietana, Marcin. 2019. Procreative consciousness in a global market: Gay men’s paths to surrogacy in the USReproductive BioMedicine & Society Online, vol. 7 (Nov. 2018): 101-111. DOI:

Smietana, Marcin; Thompson, Charis and Twine, France Winddance. 2018. Making and breaking families: Reading queer reproductions, stratified reproduction and reproductive justice togetherReproductive Biomedicine & Society Online, vol. 7 (November): pp. 112-130. DOI:

Smietana, Marcin and Thompson, Charis (eds.) 2018. Making Families: Transnational Surrogacy, Queer Kinship, and Reproductive Justice. Special Issue of Reproductive Biomedicine & Society Online, vol. 7 (November): 1-160.

Smietana, Marcin. 2018. «Mes pères d’intention et moi sommes amis sur Facebook» : comment des femmes porteuses et des pères gais gèrent les tensions entre don et échange marchand aux États-Unis. In: Isabel Côté, Kévin Lavoie & Jérôme Courduriès (eds.) Perspectives internationales sur la gestation pour autrui: Expériences des personnes concernées et contextes d’action, pp. 225-247. Presses de l’Université du Québec.

Smietana, Marcin. 2017. Affective de-commodifying, economic de-kinning: Surrogates’ and gay fathers’ narratives in U.S. surrogacy. In: Charlotte Faircloth and Zeynep Gurtin (eds.) Making Parents: Reproductive Technologies and Parenting Culture across Borders, Special Issue of Sociological Research Online 22(2), 6. DOI: 10.5153/sro.4312

Smietana, Marcin. 2016. ‘Families like we’d always known’? Spanish gay fathers’ normalization narratives in transnational surrogacy. In: Merete Lie and Nina Lykke (eds.) Assisted Reproduction across Borders: Feminist Perspectives on Normalizations, Disruptions and Transmissions, pp. 49-60. Routledge. 

Smietana, Marcin; Jennings, Sarah; Herbrand, Cathy and Golombok, Susan. 2014. Family relationships in gay father families. In: Tabitha Freeman, Susanna Graham, Fatemeh Ebtehaj and Martin Richards (eds.) Relatedness in Assisted Reproduction: Families, Origins and Identities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Smietana, Marcin. 2013. Las paternidades y maternidades en las familias de padres gays creadas por gestación subrogada. In: Joan Bestard, Carmen López and Diana Marre (eds.) Maternidades, procreación y crianza en transformación. Barcelona: Bellaterra. 

Smietana, Marcin. 2011. Matczyni ojcowie? Męskość i kobiecość w hiszpańskich rodzinach gejów. In: Ewelina Ciaputa and Katarzyna Wojnicka (eds.) Karuzela z Mężczyznami: Kategorie Męskości w Polskich Badaniach Społecznych, pp. 139-160. Kraków: Impuls. 

Slany, Krystyna; Kowalska, Beata; and Smietana, Marcin (eds.) 2005. Homoseksualizm: Perspektywa Interdyscyplinarna. Kraków: Nomos.

Smietana, Marcin. 2005a. Wizerunek publiczny homoseksualistów w Polsce. In: Slany, Krystyna; Kowalska, Beata; and Smietana, Marcin (eds.) 2005. Homoseksualizm: Perspektywa Interdyscyplinarna, pp. 265-280. Kraków: Nomos.


Blog Posts: 

‘Queering Authoritarianisms: A Queer Rethinking of Social Justice and Global Politics’ With Hakan Sandal-Wilson (March 2021).

'I Wouldn't Mind a Kid Playing Around the Kitchen Here' (November 2020).

'Houses, Children, Animals and the Planet' (June 2019).

'Queering Fertility?' (October 2017).

'Conceivable Futures' (March 2017).



'Creating a Positive, Inclusive and Kind Research Culture'. By University of Cambridge Postdoc Academy, 10 Dec 2021.

Surrogacy and Reproductive Justice'. With Dr Sarojini Nadimpally (Sama New Delhi) and Dr Mindy Jane Roseman (Yale University), by Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, 30 Nov 2021.

ReproSoc, Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge
Work Package 2: LGBTQ+ (In)Fertilities
Not available for consultancy