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ANTH 2170 Lecture Notes - Virgin Birth Of Jesus, Medical Anthropology, Natural Childbirth

Course Code
ANTH 2170
Sonja Mac Donald

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ANTH 2170 Lecture March 7th, 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
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
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
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