Rethinking Fertility, Time, and Aging

in Contingent Lives

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2002 | ISBN: 9780226058511
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226058504 | DOI:
Rethinking Fertility, Time, and Aging

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This chapter uses ethnographic and demographic data from rural Gambia and presents a number of propositions about reproduction, aging, and social life that span disciplines in the social sciences, medical sciences, and humanities. It scrutinizes a broad range of numerical and narrative data from rural Gambia on how women and men manage their conjugal and reproductive lives. Investing broadly and deeply in social relations is the cornerstone of the contingency scheme. Predominant in women's descriptions of husbanding their bodily resources are metaphors of economy: in wealth and bodily endowment (of muscles, strength, or an endowed number of child potentials) and in the saving and expenditure of moral capital. The most notable is that women in rural Gambia are using high-technology contraceptives to construct through careful cultural strategies what appear, in statistical analysis, to be birth spacing patterns created by “nature,” producing what demographic analyses term “natural fertility.”

Keywords: time; aging; fertility; social life; reproductive lives; economy

Chapter.  6098 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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