Infertility around the Globe: New Thinking on Childlessness, Gender, and Reproductive Technologies

Infertility around the Globe: New Thinking on Childlessness, Gender, and Reproductive Technologies

Infertility around the Globe: New Thinking on Childlessness, Gender, and Reproductive Technologies

Infertility around the Globe: New Thinking on Childlessness, Gender, and Reproductive Technologies


"Extremely well-written, innovative, and timely, "Infertility Around the Globe is a definitive work. Together, the authors use infertility as the lens to examine numerous compelling social issues, generating a powerful argument that infertility is a globally significant phenomenon. This volume will attract anthropologists and other social scientists interested in the study of reproduction, as well as anyone interested in gender studies, women's studies, and international health."--Carolyn Sargent, co-editor of "Childbirth and Authoritative Knowledge: Cross-Cultural Perspectives

"This groundbreaking, interdisciplinary book will change how infertility is theorized and how intervention programs are designed. It will become the primary sourcebook for international and comparative research in a variety of cultural settings. Reading this book was a distinct pleasure."--Lynn Morgan, co-editor of "Fetal Subjects, Feminist Positions

"A stunning achievement. Through its richly textured ethnographic accounts, this,book beautifully explicates the universals and particularities of involuntary childlessness in disparate world regions. It challenges the myopic view that the heartbreak is limited to advanced industrial societies. This book is a much-needed antidote in a field mostly characterized by polemic and untested assumptions."--C. H. Browner, UCLA School of Medicine

"Scholarship on infertility too often has been culture-bound, focusing on Western versions of biosocial reproductive problems and on technological solutions. This innovative volume decenters that perspective, with studies on the ostracism of elder childless men in Kenya, political suspicions of vaccination campaigns in theCameroons, new reproductive technologies for ultraorthodox use in Israel, and China's emergent eugenics. It enlarges the 'public' in public health."--Rayna Rapp, co-editor of "Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics


After decades of scholarly neglect, human reproduction, as a biological phenomenon that is socially constituted and culturally variable through space and time, has slowly gained the attention of social scientists from a variety of disciplines. Largely as a result of the feminist movement and the entrance of greater numbers of women into the academy, the past twentyfive years have witnessed a veritable explosion of research on the social construction and cultural elaboration of women's reproductive experiences (Greenhalgh, 1995a). From menarche to menopause, few aspects of the human reproductive life cycle, particularly as it pertains to women, have been left unexamined by social scientists working in a wide variety of cultural settings. This interest in reproduction is clearly evident in the numerous articles, monographs, and major recent anthologies devoted in part or in toto to subjects of fertility, family planning, childbirth, breastfeeding, menopause, abortion, and the various reproductive technologies, old and new, being applied to facilitate, curtail, or in some way shape human reproductive processes (e.g., Davis-Floyd & Dumit, 1998; Davis-Floyd & Sargent, 1997; Franklin & Ragone, 1998b; Ginsburg & Rapp, 1995a; Greenhalgh, 1995b; Handwerker, 1990; Lock & Kaufert, 1998; Morgan & Michaels, 1999; Stuart-Macadam & Dettwyler, 1995). Rapp and Ginsburg, in “Relocating Reproduction, Generating Culture” (1999), note the diverse and pioneering range of research on reproduction that has been generated during the past decade, typifying it as a “cresting wave” of scholarly and activist interest. In their paper, intended in part as an update of their earlier theoretical reviews of the politics of reproduction (Ginsburg & Rapp, 1991, 1995b), they identify a dozen “recent genealogies” of social science research on reproduction, particularly in the domain of anthropology, their central discipline. Among these genealogies, they highlight work under-

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