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Contingent LivesFertility, Time, and Aging in West Africa$
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Caroline H. Bledsoe

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780226058511

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226058504.001.0001

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Disjunctures and Anomalies: Deconstructing Child Spacing

Disjunctures and Anomalies: Deconstructing Child Spacing

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(p.129) Chapter 5 Disjunctures and Anomalies: Deconstructing Child Spacing
Source:
Contingent Lives
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226058504.003.0005

Rural women seem to have added Western contraceptives to a large repertoire of strategies for managing birth intervals in order to increase, rather than decrease, numbers of surviving children. Criticizing both modernization theory and apparent naturalisms is standard fare for sociocultural anthropology. Anthropology's greatest strength is its enduring conviction that the cultural frames from which questions about human action and motivation spring are likely partial. The Western convention of distinguishing a miscarriage from a stillbirth reveals three cultural emphases: it is seen as a temporal division, it focuses attention on the fetus, and it indexes (roughly) the viability of the fetus outside the womb. Although the model focuses on the cumulative effects of a long-term trajectory of depleting events, it is not clear how variation in the pace and severity of depleting episodes may affect the character or the pacing or the end of reproduction.

Keywords:   child spacing, women, modernization theory, fetus, reproduction

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