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Reproductive Disruptions

Reproductive Disruptions: Gender, Technology, and Biopolitics in the New Millennium

Edited by Marcia C. Inhorn
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Reproductive Disruptions
    Book Description:

    Nominated for the 2007 Book Prize by the Council on Anthropology and Reproduction (AAA)

    Reproductive disruptions, such as infertility, pregnancy loss, adoption, and childhood disability, are among the most distressing experiences in people's lives. Based on research by leading medical anthropologists from around the world, this book examines such issues as local practices detrimental to safe pregnancy and birth; conflicting reproductive goals between women and men; miscommunications between pregnant women and their genetic counselors; cultural anxieties over gamete donation and adoption; the contested meanings of abortion; cultural critiques of hormone replacement therapy; and the globalization of new pharmaceutical and assisted reproductive technologies. This breadth - with its explicit move from the "local" to the "global," from the realm of everyday reproductive practice to international programs and policies - illuminates most effectively the workings of power, the tensions between women's and men's reproductive agency, and various cultural and structural inequalities in reproductive health.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-563-5
    Subjects: Anthropology, Health Sciences, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Marcia C. Inhorn
  4. Introduction: Defining Women’s Health: A Dozen Messages from More than 150 Ethnographies
    (pp. 1-34)
    Marcia C. Inhorn

    In recent years, women’s health has attracted increasing attention in public health circles as well as in clinical medicine. The global HIV/AIDS pandemic has highlighted women’s vulnerability to the HIV virus, often in areas of the world where women continue to suffer significantly from reproductively related morbidity and mortality. In Western countries, women’s increasing susceptibility—not just men’s—to chronic lifestyle conditions, such as hypertension and cardiac disease related to smoking and obesity, has become a cause for alarm.

    Clearly, the increasing attention to women’s health is a positive development. However, the definition of what constitutes “women’s health” has been...

  5. Appendix Defining Women’s Health: A List of 157 Ethnographies
    (pp. 35-44)
  6. Part I Reproduction and Disruption:: Redefining the Contours of Normalcy

    • Chapter 1 The Dialectics of Disruption: Paradoxes of Nature and Professionalism in Contemporary American Childbearing
      (pp. 47-78)
      Caroline H. Bledsoe and Rachel F. Scherrer

      Despite the development of so many advancements in obstetrics and related fields that have minimized the mortality risks of childbirth in the US, obstetrics remains the adversary of many contemporary American women. No other medical specialty is described in web sites, internet chatrooms, and magazine articles as being so disruptive, a fact that seems paradoxical given the joy that the event of childbirth is supposed to represent. Obstetricians attend over 90 percent of US births, and the great majority of obstetrician-attended births produce healthy mothers and children. Indeed, aside from the preventive medicines, obstetrics is the only specialty in which...

    • Chapter 2 Designing a Woman-Centered Health Care Approach to Pregnancy Loss: Lessons from Feminist Models of Childbirth
      (pp. 79-97)
      Linda Layne

      Miscarriage and stillbirth are two of the most common forms of disrupted reproduction. Miscarriage, also known as spontaneous abortion, refers to a fetal loss before twenty weeks gestation and is by far the most frequent type of pregnancy loss. About one out of four confirmed pregnancies ends in miscarriage, resulting in nearly one million fetal losses in the US per year (Ventura et al. 2001: 1). Most miscarriages occur in the early weeks of pregnancy. Studies show that levels of psychological distress do not map directly onto length of gestation. Even very early losses may be emotionally difficult when experienced...

    • Chapter 3 Enlarging Reproduction, Screening Disability
      (pp. 98-121)
      Rayna Rapp and Faye Ginsburg

      Disrupted reproduction¹ now means far more than the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). In the present era in the US and other developed nations, the dramatic growth in the use of ARTs should be viewed in light of a much larger and more steadily increasing use of technologies of “neonatal salvage” (as well as less heroic medical interventions) that have enabled a much wider range of medically challenged infants to survive. Thus, the “disruption of reproduction”—as other chapters in this collection also make clear—has much broader temporal and sociocultural consequences than the language of reproduction might suggest....

    • Chapter 4 Openness in Adoption: Re-Thinking “Family” in the US
      (pp. 122-144)
      Harold D. Grotevant

      Human societies have always had to make provisions for the nurturing of children who could not be raised by their biological parents. Across cultures and historical time, such arrangements have typically occurred within the extended family. More recently, Western societies have established legal proceedings by which parenting rights and responsibilities of the child’s birth parents are terminated and transferred to others who will raise the child. This process, adoption, is one example of reproductive disruption.

      Problematizing reproduction through the study of adoption can yield important insights about culture and in particular, the meaning of “family” and how it is changing....

  7. Part II Reproduction, Gender, and Biopolitics:: Local-Global Intersections and Contestations

    • Chapter 5 Can Gender “Equity” in Prenatal Genetic Services Unintentionally Reinforce Male Authority?
      (pp. 147-164)
      C. H. Browner

      Despite the fact that both sexes are essential to human procreation, it was only until recently that sexual and reproductive health research, programs, and policies focused overwhelmingly just on women. This is no longer the case. After conducting an analysis of the recent literature, Margaret E. Greene and Ann E. Biddlecom assure us that “[o]ne can no longer assert that men are missing from the literature.… [T]he past two decades show consistently about three female references to every male reference, with a very slow annual increase on men alone” (2000: 90).

      Still, insight remains limited, in large part because most...

    • Chapter 6 When the Personal is Political: Contested Reproductive Strategies Among West African Migrants in France
      (pp. 165-182)
      Carolyn Sargent

      The now-substantial and important scholarly anthropological literature on reproduction vividly documents the potential that such studies hold for identifying the broader social forces shaping reproductive options, interests, and strategies of women and men (Browner and Sargent 2005; Ginsburg and Rapp 1995). Among the themes generated in this body of research is the following question: what do the politically and emotionally charged contestations that take place in the reproductive experiences of women and men around the world tell us about structure, culture, and power in everyday life (Jenkins and Inhorn 2003: 1831)? How do men’s and women’s reproductive decisions coincide or...

    • Chapter 7 Reproductive Disruptions and Assisted Reproductive Technologies in the Muslim World
      (pp. 183-199)
      Marcia C. Inhorn

      In their seminal volume,Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction, anthropologists Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp (1995: 1) argue that reproduction, in both its biological and social interpretations, must be placed “at the center of social theory”— as the very “entry point to the study of social life.” Furthermore, Ginsburg and Rapp insist that “reproduction also provides a terrain for imagining new cultural futures and transformations,” often involving “transnational processes that link local and global interests” (2).

      In this chapter, I want to draw on these important insights as they apply to infertility and assisted reproductive...

    • Chapter 8 The Final Disruption? Biopolitics of Post-Reproductive Life
      (pp. 200-224)
      Margaret Lock

      Over the past several decades, the female body has become the site of ever more contentious debate in connection with the medical practices performed upon it. Ranging from preimplantation genetic diagnoses to postmenopausal pregnancies, women are subject to the medical “gaze” with increasing intensity (in Michel Foucault’s idiom) and to the practices associated with emerging biomedical technologies. However, research has shown that the medicalized body, female or male, is not merely the product of medical interests and technological innovation. It is also a manifestation of potent, never settled, partially disguised political and cultural contests that inform normalized bodily discourse (Bordo...

  8. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. 225-226)
  9. List of Contributors
    (pp. 227-230)
  10. Index
    (pp. 231-240)