Cultural Politics of Reproduction

Cultural Politics of Reproduction: Migration, Health and Family Making

Maya Unnithan-Kumar
Sunil K. Khanna
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 206
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Cultural Politics of Reproduction
    Book Description:

    Charting the experiences of internally or externally migrant communities, the volume examines social transformation through the dynamic relationship between movement, reproduction, and health. The chapters examine how healthcare experiences of migrants are not only embedded in their own unique health worldviews, but also influenced by the history, policy, and politics of the wider state systems. The research among migrant communities an understanding of how ideas of reproduction and "cultures of health" travel, how healing, birth and care practices become a result of movement, and how health-related perceptions and reproductive experiences can define migrant belonging and identity.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-545-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
    Maya Unnithan and Sunil Khanna
  5. Introduction Migration and the Politics of Reproduction and Health: Tracking Global Flows through Ethnography
    (pp. 1-13)
    Sunil K. Khanna and Maya Unnithan-Kumar

    In recent years, scholars have paid significant attention to the broad topic of the politics of health and reproduction. Within this larger domain of knowledge, anthropologists have focused on the political economy of health, often drawing on theoretical trends prevalent in other disciplines to examine health from a cross-cultural perspective. This volume adds yet another dimension to this already complex topic, namely the relationship between the politics of reproduction and health among both internal and external migrant communities. Our key objective in this volume is to develop a fresh perspective, informed by ethnographic research, to examine how migrant communities experience...

  6. Chapter 1 Migration, Belonging and the Body that Births: Pakistani Women in Britain
    (pp. 14-32)
    Kaveri Qureshi

    This chapter explores the life histories of middle-aged Pakistani women who migrated to Britain in the 1960s and 1970s as the brides or daughters of industrial workers, did piecework at home or labour jobs, and brought up their children to adulthood. As this generation of women entered their fifties and sixties, they were preoccupied with their ageing bodies and deteriorating health, which brought back for them memories of migration, building their lives in a new place and passing through the life course. Their identity as mothers was central to their sense of who they were, yet migration changed the nature...

  7. Chapter 2 To Be or Not to Be? Cape Verdean Student Mothers in Portugal
    (pp. 33-49)
    Elizabeth P. Challinor

    This chapter focuses on how the experience of motherhood, within the context of migration, shapes migrant subjectivities, posing a challenge for Cape Verdean women to renegotiate their relations with themselves and with the wider world. The experience of migration, when familiar social relations are disrupted and new relations are forged, coupled with the experience of pregnancy and maternity, when a new relation between body and self develops that disrupts the immediacy of non-reflective self-knowledge (Gadow 1982), constitutes a rich source for ethnographic investigation into how displacement shapes notions of identity.

    The experience of birth and pregnancy, like migration, may alienate...

  8. Chapter 3 ‘Good Women Stay at Home, Bad Women Go Everywhere’: Agency, Sexuality and Self in Sri Lankan Migrant Narratives
    (pp. 50-76)
    Sajida Z. Ally

    This chapter focuses on issues of agency, sexuality and self within the lives of low-income, rural Sri Lankan women migrating to and from the Persian Gulf. While women emphasize the economic concerns underlying their migration, I argue that despite their poverty, their motivations also need to be understood in terms of their emotional involvement and desires towards spouses, as well as their aspirations for honour and change in their lives. Defining agency as a capacity for action and self-transformation that historically-specific relations of South Asian domestic workers’ subordination create, I suggest that women act as moral agents engaged in processes...

  9. Chapter 4 ‘That’s Not a Religious Thing, That’s a Cultural Thing’: Culture in the Provision of Health Services for Bangladeshi Mothers in East London
    (pp. 77-92)
    Laura Griffith

    This chapter looks at the experiences of motherhood among Bangladeshi women in Tower Hamlets, in the East End of London. The analysis focuses on the concept of authoritative knowledge: knowledge ‘that counts’ and on the basis of which choices are enacted. I move beyond simply describing what we might presume to be the dominance of biomedical knowledge, or the standardization of Islamic practice, and look at the multiple sites in which different types of authoritative knowledge are produced and reproduced. The majority of research on the Bangladeshi diaspora in the East End has concentrated upon male public and political identities...

  10. Chapter 5 Health Inequalities and Perceptions of Place: Migrant Mothers’ Accounts of Birth and Loss in North-West India
    (pp. 93-112)
    Maya Unnithan-Kumar

    In his focus on the health of North African immigrants in France, anthropologist Didier Fassin (2004) makes the important point that, despite being among the most equitable of health and social protection systems in the world, immigrants in France suffer poor health as a result of invisible processes which produce and sustain health inequalities. It is not so much that there are well resourced health systems or legal and social policies ensuring universal health coverage that determine immigrant well-being, he argues, but equally whether migrants perceive they have a legitimate claim to them, which is a key factor in understanding...

  11. Chapter 6 Acculturation and Experiences of Post-partum Depression amongst Immigrant Mothers: Cultural Competency in Medicine
    (pp. 113-126)
    Mirabelle E. Fernandes-Paul

    Studies conducted by major organizational bodies have shown that racial and ethnic health disparities are significant in the United States (Nelson 2002). The American Medical Association and medical schools have acknowledged the serious consequences of such disparities (Misra-Herbert 2003). To increase the quality of an immigrant’s healthcare experience, experts have focused on making the healthcare system more culturally competent. ‘Cultural competency’ is a model designed to help healthcare professionals and organizations provide better care to immigrants (Nunez 2000). According to this model, organizations hire multicultural staff, use interpreters, provide brochures, signs and educational material in different languages and provide their...

  12. Chapter 7 ‘A Mother Who Stays but Cannot Provide Is Not as Good’: Migrant Mothers in Hanoi, Vietnam
    (pp. 127-151)
    Catherine Locke, Hoa Nguyen Thi Ngan and Tam Nguyen Thi Thanh

    Vietnam embarked on a reform process in the mid to late 1980s that has transformed the nation’s centrally planned communism to a form of ‘market socialism’. This transition process, known locally asdoi moi, has been defined by the state as primarily economic in nature, involving very limited political change. However, the economic changes have also entailed fundamental shifts in the relation between citizens and the state, notably, for the purposes of this chapter, the rolling back of social provisioning, the relaxation of restrictions on internal migration and the promotion of new ideologies of womanhood. The concentration of new income-earning...

  13. Chapter 8 ‘A City Walla Prefers a Small Family’: Son Preference and Sex Selection among Punjabi Migrant Families in Urban India
    (pp. 152-168)
    Sunil K. Khanna

    Although the relationship between culture and fertility is well established in scholarly literature (Basu 1992; Greenhalgh 1995; Sheker and Hatti 2010), only recently have scholars paid attention to the role of cultural factors in defining family building or family composition processes, especially among migrant groups (Bledsoe 2004; Carling 2008; Khanna 2010). Much of the work on examining the complex relationship between culture and fertility is in the broad area of anthropological demography – an interdisciplinary perspective that adopts explanatory models from both anthropology and demography to examine the complex relationship between culture and key demographic variables, namely fertility, mortality and...

  14. Chapter 9 Restoring the Connection: Aboriginal Midwifery and Relocation for Childbirth in First Nation Communities in Canada
    (pp. 169-190)
    Rachel Olson

    In Canada, Aboriginal midwives are the symbol of returning childbirth practices to First Nation communities, as well as being politically engaged advocates of First Nation peoples and their rights to health and self-determination. In this chapter, the narratives of Aboriginal midwives are explored in order to understand the underlying notions of ‘authoritative knowledge’ and identity as it relates to the current practice of evacuating pregnant women from their home places in order to give birth in urban hospitals, often referred to as ‘maternal evacuation’ (Jordan 1997: 56). Framing this discussion is also the concept of maternal evacuation as a state...

  15. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 191-194)
  16. Index
    (pp. 195-198)