The politics of reproduction.

F. Ginsburg, R. Rapp

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The topic of human reproduction encompasses events throughout the human and especially female life-cycle as well as ideas and practices surrounding fertility, birth, and child care. Most of the scholarship on the subject, up through the 1960s, was based on cross-cultural surveys focused on the beliefs, norms, and values surrounding reproductive behaviors. Multiple methodologies and subspecialties, and fields like social history, human biology, and demography were utilized for the analysis. The concept of the politics of reproduction synthesizes local and global perspectives. The themes investigated include: the concept of reproduction, population control, and the internationalization of state and market interests (new reproductive technologies); social movements and contested domains; medicalization and its discontents; fertility and its control; adolescence and teen pregnancy; birth; birth attendants; the construction of infancy and the politics of child survival; rethinking the demographic transition; networks of nurturance; and meanings of menopause. The medicalization of reproduction is a central issue of studies of birth, midwifery, infertility, and reproductive technologies. Scholars have also analyzed different parts of the female life-cycle as medical problems. Other issues worth analysis include the internationalization of adoption and child care workers; the crisis of infertility of low-income and minority women who are not candidates for expensive reproductive technologies; the concerns of women at high risk for HIV whose cultural status depends on their fertility; questions of reproduction concerning, lesbians and gay men (artificial insemination and discrimination in child rearing); the study of menopause; and fatherhood. New discourse analysis is used to analyze state eugenic policies; conflicts over Western neocolonial influences in which women's status as childbearers represent nationalist interests; fundamentalist attacks on abortion rights; and the AIDS crisis.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)311-343
    Number of pages33
    JournalAnnual review of anthropology
    StatePublished - 1991

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cultural Studies
    • Anthropology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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