Contingent Lives: Fertility, Time, and Aging in West Africa
University of Chicago Press, 2002 - Social Science - 396 pages
Most women in the West use contraceptives in order to avoid having children. But in rural Gambia and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, many women use contraceptives for the opposite reason—to have as many children as possible.
Using ethnographic and demographic data from a three-year study in rural Gambia, Contingent Lives explains this seemingly counterintuitive fact by juxtaposing two very different understandings of the life course: one is a linear, Western model that equates aging and the ability to reproduce with the passage of time, the other a Gambian model that views aging as contingent on the cumulative physical, social, and spiritual hardships of personal history, especially obstetric trauma. Viewing each of these two models from the perspective of the other, Caroline Bledsoe produces fresh understandings of the classical anthropological subjects of reproduction, time, and aging as culturally shaped within women's conjugal lives. Her insights will be welcomed by scholars of anthropology and demography as well as by those working in public health, development studies, gerontology, and the history of medicine.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Reproductive Tolls and Temporalities in Studies of Reproduction
Setting Data and Methods
Managing the Birth Interval Child Spacing
Disjunctures and Anomalies Deconstructing Child Spacing
Realizing a Reproductive Endowment in a Contingent Body
TimeNeutral Reproduction TimeNeutral Aging
Reaping the Rewards of Reproduction Morality Retirement and Repletion
abstinence African anthropology baby Banjul bear become biological birth intervals Bledsoe bodily resources body breastfeeding bridewealth cesarean section chapter chil child spacing childbearing childbirth chronological age co-wife common sense compound conjugal contingency course cultural cumulative decline delivery demographic Depo Provera describe effects efforts Epi Info example experience fact family planning Farafenni fecundity fetus fetuses Fula Gambian women hapo high fertility husband implies infertility juju labor Lee's linear live births logic Mandinka marriage married maternal menopause miscarriage mishaps months moral mother muscles natural fertility nonlive births notion number of children obstetrics occur older pace patterns percent physical pills polygyny population possible postpartum potential preg pregnancy problems produce question relations reported repro rest risks rural Gambia sarifo senescence sexual Sierra Leone social stage stillbirth strength survey temporalities tion tive users uterus weaned Western contraceptives wife wives woman young