Haunting Images: A Cultural Account of Selective Reproduction in Vietnam

Haunting Images: A Cultural Account of Selective Reproduction in Vietnam

Haunting Images: A Cultural Account of Selective Reproduction in Vietnam

Haunting Images: A Cultural Account of Selective Reproduction in Vietnam

Synopsis

Based on years of careful ethnographic fieldwork in Hanoi, Haunting Images offers a frank and compassionate account of the moral quandaries that accompany innovations in biomedical technology. At the center of the book are case studies of thirty pregnant women whose fetuses were labeled "abnormal" after an ultrasound examination. By following these women and their relatives through painful processes of reproductive decision making, Tine M. Gammeltoft offers intimate ethnographic insights into everyday life in contemporary Vietnam and a sophisticated theoretical exploration of how subjectivities are forged in the face of moral assessments and demands.

Across the globe, ultrasonography and other technologies for prenatal screening offer prospective parents new information and present them with agonizing decisions never faced in the past. For anthropologists, this diagnostic capability raises important questions about individuality and collectivity, responsibility and choice. Arguing for more sustained anthropological attention to human quests for belonging, Haunting Images addresses existential questions of love and loss that concern us all.

Excerpt

On an early morning in February 2004, four weeks after the lunar New Year (Tết Nguyễn Ðán), my colleague Hạnh and I drove in a rented car along bumpy rural gravel roads leading to Quyết Tiến, a village located in the Red River delta, a few kilometers from Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. On this morning, the flooded rice fields were a calm ocean, the water reflecting the gray of the sky. At this time of the year, farmers usually began transplanting their spring seedlings, moving them from the nurseries in the village into the open fields. Had this been an ordinary spring day, twenty-five-year-old Tuyết would probably have been among the women standing in the paddy fields, her trousers and sleeves rolled up, pushing seedlings of vivid green into the clayey soil. Today, however, she was lying at home in bed, recovering from an induced abortion.

Hạnh and I had first met Tuyết ten days earlier. A 3D scan performed in the maternity hospital where we did fieldwork had found that there was fluid on the brain of the child she was expecting. Today, following Tuyết’s instructions, we asked villagers for directions to her home. Like many other women, she lived in an extended family, sharing a house with her parents-in-law, her husband, Huy, and their five-year-old son. As in other Red River delta hamlets, the houses in Quyết Tiến were clustered closely together. Tuyết’s house was built of brick and had white plastered walls; it was surrounded by a lush green garden with banana and star fruit trees. A flock of squawking chickens was running around the yard, and from the neighboring houses floated the sounds of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.