Reproductive Agency, Medicine, and the State: Cultural Transformations in Childbearing

Reproductive Agency, Medicine, and the State: Cultural Transformations in Childbearing

Reproductive Agency, Medicine, and the State: Cultural Transformations in Childbearing

Reproductive Agency, Medicine, and the State: Cultural Transformations in Childbearing

Synopsis

Recent years have seen many changes in human reproduction resulting from state and medical interventions in childbearing processes. Based on empirical work in a variety of societies and countries, this volume considers the relationship between reproductive processes (of fertility, pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period) on the one hand and attitudes, medical technologies and state health policies in diverse cultural contexts on the other.

Excerpt

The main objective of this volume is to consider the relationship between human reproductive processes (including attitudes to fertility, pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period), medical technologies and state health policies in diverse cultural contexts, especially outside Northern Europe and North America. Bringing together researchers from several disciplines, the volume discusses the relationship between local and global ideas, practices and policies concerning reproduction and health across the developing and post-industrial worlds. It seeks to understand the connections between biological and social reproduction: between how the physical processes of childbearing are connected to the reproduction of social institutions and values. the contributions are connected by a common interest in examining the exercise of medical power and the role of state policies and programmes to do with reproduction and health. the concept of ‘reproductive health’ provides a means of exploring various epistemological positions, and of understanding state ideas and practices relating to planned social change. At a more local level, a focus on the reproductive agency of women and men enables social and cultural responses to the processes of modernisation, in particular to the increasing intervention of biomedicine and reproductive technologies in people’s daily lives, to be explored. the focus on reproductive technologies is pertinent in this context because ‘reproductive technologies crystallise issues at the heart of gender, reproduction and family relationships and give insight into the engagement with modernity’ (Stanworth 1987: 4). Examining the issues raised by reproductive technologies provides a useful insight into the ways in which people understand themselves to be connected (Strathern 1992a, Ginsburg and Rapp 1995, Edwards et al. 1993, Edwards 2000, Becker 2001, Ragone 2000).

Since the late 1980s, there has been a surge in scholarship on the relationship between human reproduction, biomedical technologies, and the related area of childbirth (Martin 1987, Stanworth 1987, Petchesky 1987 . . .

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