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ANTH 2170 - Lecture - March 7th, 2013.docx

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ANTH 2170
Sonja Mac Donald

ANTH 2170 Lecture March 7 , 2013 The Anthropology of Reproduction  Reproduction in terms of an embodied experience and a cultural system  Nature as a cultural construct – main theme of course  Reproduction is cultural  What we believe of reproduction and what we think is natural in terms or reproduction it tends to come from pre-existing beliefs that make it seem naturalized – similar to gender representations Anthro of Reproduction  The anthropology of reproduction explores the social, cultural, and political complexities involved in human reproduction in contemporary and historical worlds  Powerful institutions within society such as biomedicine, law, and politics also shape the way people imagine and manage their reproductive lives, as do global economic and development trends  We see how things become naturalized over time  The treatment of reproduction in anthro was limited o Few ethnographies in how reproduction is perceived cross-culturally  Reproduction and parenting are the cornerstones of culture – and it was often ignored  We see it as natural therefore tend to not think about it  Why was attention to reproduction in anthropology so limited in the past? o Anthropology was dominated by men – therefore research was paid attention to things that interested them  If the workforce is all men in many places, pregnancy and childbirth are considered women’s business  Barrier to witnessing of births or access to research  They had to rely on other male informants on pregnancy and childbirth – they would be getting a male perspective  Malanowski – anthropologists were interested in warfare, tool making, food production, etc  Virgin Birth Debate: comes out of Malanowski’s era o Understanding reproduction was only understood through kinship  Inheritance, leadership  Kinship appeals to anthro in a way that that reproduction doesn’t  Cultural, not natural o How were children created?  Disregarded sexual intercourse  Women calling out in the water for a child  Men aren’t really involved in this spiritual process  Malanowski asked – are primitives ignorant to reproduction – sexual intercourse and the making of the baby o David Snider  Very interested in kinship  He asks about the male role  In western culture we have a deep understanding of reproduction  Maternity was never in question but paternity is always in question ANTH 2170 Lecture March 7 , 2013  The virgin birth debate was used to compare western values of family, reproduction and relatedness, and paternity  For the Yap, how the father acts is what constitutes paternity – not a scientific role  Limited understanding of reproduction because the focus was only on the male side or role within reproduction – this is limited and constricting o Androcentric bias What set the stage for an increased interest in reproduction?  Women entering anthropology in greater numbers in the 70s o Women getting PhD’s o The impact of reproduction technologies  The infusion of feminist and critical perspectives o Interested in studying other women’s lives  The rise of medical anthropology as a sub-discipli
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