By Caroline H. Bledsoe

ISBN-10: 0226058514

ISBN-13: 9780226058511

ISBN-10: 0226058522

ISBN-13: 9780226058528

Most ladies within the West use contraceptives on the way to steer clear of having kids. yet in rural Gambia and different elements of sub-Saharan Africa, many girls use contraceptives for the other reason—to have as many youngsters as possible.Using ethnographic and demographic facts from a three-year learn in rural Gambia, Contingent Lives explains this likely counterintuitive truth via juxtaposing very diverse understandings of the lifestyles path: one is a linear, Western version that equates getting older and the facility to breed with the passage of time, the opposite a Gambian version that perspectives getting older as contingent at the cumulative actual, social, and non secular hardships of private historical past, specially obstetric trauma. Viewing every one of those versions from the viewpoint of the opposite, Caroline Bledsoe produces clean understandings of the classical anthropological matters of replica, time, and getting older as culturally formed inside women's conjugal lives. Her insights could be welcomed by means of students of anthropology and demography in addition to by way of these operating in public overall healthiness, improvement reviews, gerontology, and the heritage of medication.

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Additional resources for Contingent Lives: Fertility, Time, and Aging in West Africa (Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture Series, Volume 1999)

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By shaping her aging process on behalf of a certain man and his family, a woman can build a moral reputation and establish her conjugal security. Indeed, since the efforts that age her are seen as helping to build her 20. , Giddens 1977; Comaroff and Roberts 1981; Carter 1995. Introduction 25 husband’s family, the number of children she has produced may well matter less than how she has conducted the process of aging itself. My use of the word contingency covers a good deal of ground. It implies randomness, uncertainty, and risk.

Becoming pregnant, bringing the pregnancy to term, and giving birth to a healthy baby (not to mention doing so multiple times)—and undergoing a process of contingent aging—all these are not simply biological processes that occur within a given window of time. They are products of action in a precarious social and physical world. Such assertions, especially those relating senescence to agency, might appear at first to be little more than an attempt to romanticize a set of exotic African cultural constructions.

This suggests that a woman’s body may deteriorate rapidly with the stresses of reproduction. Yet contingency in the sense of containment also implies a capacity to take action to check harmful repercussions of events, especially through cultivating social ties with those who can help in a crisis. This means that the success with which a woman can prevent or contain future bodily harm depends on her investing broadly and deeply in social relations. Indeed, the word contingency connotes a sense of social ties that underlie all aspects of life, including the physical growth, development, and decline of the body.

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Contingent Lives: Fertility, Time, and Aging in West Africa (Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture Series, Volume 1999) by Caroline H. Bledsoe


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