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Ms Nolwenn Bühler

Job: Honorary Research Fellow

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: School of Applied Social Sciences

Research group(s): Centre for Reproduction Research

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH.

T: N/A




Personal profile

Nolwenn Bühler is an anthropologist combining science and technology studies (STS) and gender studies approaches. Her PhD dissertation deals with the ontological status of reproductive ageing and the role ARTs play in the production of knowledge on age-related infertility.

She is interested in how the possibility of medically extending female fertility and of intervening at the heart of ageing biological processes may transform the taken-for-granted “fixed nature” of reproductive ageing.

She also explores how imaginaries related to the prospect of “ageless fertility” are framed in the Swiss context and how reproductive ageing itself becomes a biopolitical concern. More generally, she is interested in exploring how the anti-ageing and the reproductive socio-technical project articulate and how the social and the natural intertwine in the making of reproductive ageing.

She currently works as an Honorary Research Fellow in the Centre for Reproduction Research of De Montfort University and as a part-time lecturer in the Anthropology Institute of the University of Neuchatel and the Applied University Western Switzerland (HES-SO, Social Work, Geneva).

Previously she spent a year in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department of the University of California, Berkeley (2013-2014) as a visiting researcher and worked for three years (2011-2013) in the Research Project “Fertility and Family in Switzerland” funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and based at the University of Zurich. 

Research group affiliations

Publications and outputs 

Peer reviewed articles and chapter of an edited volume 

  • Bühler Nolwenn, Willemijn De Jong, Yv E. Nay, Kathrin Zehnder. 2015. ‘Ontological Choreography’ as an Ethnographic Tool: Understanding the Making of Normative and Non-normative Families by Reproductive Technologies in Switzerland. Tsantsa 20: 84-96
  • Bühler Nolwenn. 2015. Imagining the Future of Motherhood: The Medically Assisted Extension of Fertility and the Production of Genealogical Continuity. Sociologus 65(1): 79-100. 

  • Bühler Nolwenn and Anika König. 2015. Making Kinship in Switzerland and Beyond: Imaginations and Substances. Sociologus 65(1): 1-10. 

  • Bühler Nolwenn. 2014. Tracer les frontières de la médecine reproductive entre légalité, responsabilité et légitimité: les médecins face à l’interdiction du don d’ovocytes en Suisse. In: Claudine Burton-Jeangros, Irene Maffi, Raphael Hammer (ed). Accompagner la naissance: terrains socio-anthropologiques en Suisse romande. p.31-56. Lausanne: BSN Press. Series: A Contrario.
  • Bühler Nolwenn. 2014. Ovules vieillissants, mères sans âge? Infertilité féminine et recours au don d’ovocytes en Suisse. Enfances, Familles, et Générations 21:24-47. Special issue edited by Cathy Herbrand and Jérôme Courduriès. Online:
  • Bühler Nolwenn. 2012. Un vaccin à l’épreuve des controverses: implantation de la vaccination anti-HPV en Suisse romande. Tsantsa 17: 129-138.

Edition of a peer reviewed special issue

  • Bühler Nolwenn and Anika Konig (eds). 2015. Making Kinship in Switzerland and Beyond: Imagnations and Substances. Sociologus 65(1).

Expert report

  • Bühler Nolwenn. Egg donation and IVF with donated eggs: lessons to be learned from other countries Social Science Report on behalf of the Federal Office of Public Health. Bern: OFSP/BAG.

Book Review

  • Bühler Nolwenn. 2012. Review: Erdmute Alber, Bettina Beer, Julia Pauli, Michael Schnegg (eds). 2010. Verwandschaft Heute: Positionen, Ergebnisse und Perspektiven. Tsantsa 17: 204-205.

Other Article

  • Bühler Nolwenn and Kathrin Zehnder. 2013. Eizellspende und Spermienspende im Vergleich – Zwischenergebnisse aus einem nationalen Forschungsprojekt. Hebamme - Sage-femme 9: 12-14.

Scientific Reports

  • Bühler Nolwenn. 2014. Final report of the SNSF doc.mobility project “Reproductive Technologies, Biological Clock Discourses and the Extension of Fertility Time: Gender, Kinship, and Biopolitics of Reproductive Aging in Switzerland”.
  • De Jong Willemijn, Nolwenn Bühler, Yv Nay, Kathrin Zehnder. 2014. Final report of the SNSF project «Fertility and Family in Switzerland. Local Processes» of Reproduction and Kinship in Transnational Contexts of Biomedical Technologies”.

Unpublished Work

  • Bühler Nolwenn. 2015. The Frontiers of Age: ARTs and the Extension of Fertility Time in Switzerland and Beyond. PhD Thesis.
  • Bühler Nolwenn. 2010. Le vaccin anti-HPV, “un bon outil pour la tâche”? Etude de l’implantation de la vaccination préventive du cancer du col de l’utérus dans le Canton de Vaud. MA Thesis. Online:

Research interests/expertise

  • Reproductive Ageing
  • Assisted Reproductive Technologies
  • NaturesCultures (Ontology, Materialisation)
  • Temporality
  • Potentiality
  • Kinship
  • Gender
  • Egg Donation and Freezing
  • Relationships between anti-ageing and reproductive socio-technical projects

Areas of teaching

  • History of Anthropology
  • Reproduction and Motherhood
  • Gender


  • Nurse (Ecole La Source, Lausanne, Switzerland)
  • Master of ARTS, University of Lausanne
  • PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Zurich - February 2016

Courses taught

  • History of Anthropology.BA course. University of Neuchâtel. 2015-2016
(28 hours)
  • Medically Assisted Reproduction: A Socio-Anthropological Approach. HESAV, Midwifery School, BA, Lausanne. 2015-2016 (4 hours)
  • Questions of Gender and Motherhood. HESAV, Midwifery School, BA, Lausanne. 2015-2016 (8 hours)
  • Social relationships, socialization, culture.BA seminar and course. University of Applied Sciences (HETS), Geneva. 2014-2015 (32 hrs).
  • Regulating ARTs in Switzerland and Elsewhere. Sociology of Law, BA course. UNIL Lausanne. 2014 (4 hours)
  • Child, desired or mandatory? Fertility and Family between nature and culture. DAS in Sexual and Reproductive Health. HEP Lausanne. 2014 (2 hours)
  • 2013 Regulating ARTs in Switzerland. Course on Gender, Race, Nation and Health, University of California Berkeley. 2013 (4 hours). 

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Member of the Committee of the STS-CH Society
  • Member of the Ethical and Deontological Think Tank (EDTT), Switzerland
  • Member of the Swiss Ethnological Society (SES)
  • Member of “Lucine”, group of sociologists and anthropologists working on reproduction in the French part of Switzerland

Conference attendance

  • When age matters: ARTs and the fertility decline in Switzerland – 4S Annual Meeting. Denver. Nov. 11-14 2015.
  • Les (dé)mesures de l’âge de la fertilité: ovules, biotechnologies reproductives, et temporalités en Suisse – Annual meeting of the Association française d’ethnologie et d’anthropologie. Toulouse. June 29-July 02 2015.
  • A future without biological clock? ARTs and the possibility of fertility extension in Switzerland – AAA annual meeting. Washington DC. Dec. 3-7 2014.
  • Transience and ambivalent belongings: the digital biosociality of an infertility forum – Annual Meeting of the Swiss Ethnological Society. Basel. Oct. 31-Nov. 01 2014.
  • The frontiers of age: ARTs and the extension of fertility time – International conference on Critical Kinship Studies. Odense, Denmark. Oct. 8-10 2014.
  • Guest Speaker at the round table organized by Swissnex of San Francisco, Exploring the Future of Reproduction in collaboration with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). May 01.
  • Interrupting the biological clock? ARTs and the possibility of fertility extension - Feminist STS Conference, Interruptions: Sciences, Feminisms, Knowledges. University of California Berkeley. April 18-19 2014.
  • Challenging the genealogical model? Continuity, transmission, and generation in context of assisted reproductive technologies and age-related infertility in Switzerland – International Conference Contesting Fertilities, Families and Sexualities Social and Historical Perspectives on Assisted Reproductive Technologies. University of Zürich. Sept. 5-6 2013.
  • Negotiating the meaning of genetic inheritance in case of age-related infertility and egg donation in Switzerland – 17th World Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. Manchester. Aug. 5-10 2013.
  • Le don d’ovocytes, une technique anti-âge ? Infertilité et don de gamètes: regards croisés d’une gynécologue, d’une conseillère en santé sexuelle et d’une anthropologue – In collaboration with Dr. Dorothea Wunder and Danièle Besse. IUHMSP. Lausanne. June 26 2013.
  • Interroger l’épreuve à partir des parcours de procréation médicalement assistée – Colloque de sociologie. Paris. Dec. 6-7 2012.
  • Redesigning reproductive aging in Switzerland: biomedical technologies and the extension of fertility time – Annual meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) and Biennial Conference of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST). Copenhague. Oct. 17-20 2012.
  • Infertilité liée à l’âge et don d’ovocyte en Suisse: articulation et naturalisation des hiérarchies de genre et d’âge – 6ème congrès international des recherches féministes francophones. Lausanne. Aug. 29-Sept. 02 2012.
  • Loi et pratiques professionnelles dans le cadre de la procréation médicalement assistée: une réglementation contestée ? – Sociology of Health Conference. Winterthur. June 01-02 2012.
  • Quand le faire des pratiques se réduit au dire des entretiens, comment effectuer son travail d’ethnographe? – with MA Virginie Stucki – Annual Conference of the Swiss Society for Anthropology. University of Zürich. Nov. 25-26 2012. 

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