Commodifying Compassion: Affective Economies of Human Milk Exchange
- IJFAB: International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics
- University of Toronto Press
- Volume 12, Number 2, Fall 2019
- pp. 92-116
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Breastmilk is bought, sold, and donated in a global marketplace, which risks exploiting the women who produce it. In Detroit, black mothers are targeted as paid milk donors; milk from Cambodian and Indian mothers is sold to parents in the United States and Australia; and the International Breast Milk Project sends donated milk from the United States to Africa. Drawing on transnational care work and affect theory, I argue that merely refraining from paying women does not eliminate potentially harmful effects. Addressing the ethical implications of these exchanges requires reconsidering the relationship between gift and commodity and between love and work.