Realizing a Reproductive Endowment in a Contingent Body

in Contingent Lives

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2002 | ISBN: 9780226058511
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226058504 | DOI:
Realizing a Reproductive Endowment in a Contingent Body

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This chapter addresses how disparate forces of divine will, individual action, and a shaping social context function in combination. The vision of female reproductivity that rural Gambians describe identifies four key components: endowment, muscles, strength, and blood. They are set along several axes. Among the most important are fixity versus malleability, transparency versus impenetrability, permanence versus transience, and the degree to which the elements can be replenished. The three reproductive elements (muscles, strength, blood) operate in close synchrony during childbirth and its aftermath. This chapter shows an intricate mixture of propositions about God-given and socially controlled elements of reproduction, along with the principles governing the manner and pace of their decrement. The contingency view holds that all pregnancies are taxing if not dangerous for women. The cultural categorization of different kinds of miscarriages provides additional support for the contingency framework.

Keywords: female reproductivity; Gambians; childbirth; contingent body; miscarriages

Chapter.  24868 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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