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Contingent Lives
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Contingent Lives: Fertility, Time, and Aging in West Africa

Caroline H. Bledsoe


Most women in the West use contraceptives in order to avoid having children. But in rural Gambia and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, many women use contraceptives for the opposite reason—to have as many children as possible. Using ethnographic and demographic data from a three-year study in rural Gambia, this book explains this seemingly counterintuitive fact by juxtaposing two very different understandings of the life course: one is a linear, Western model that equates aging and the ability to reproduce with the passage of time, the other a Gambian model that views aging as contingent on t ... More

Keywords: Gambia, contraceptives, aging, reproduction, hardships, obstetric trauma, time

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2002 Print ISBN-13: 9780226058511
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226058504.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Caroline H. Bledsoe, author