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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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Time-Neutral Reproduction, Time-Neutral Aging

Time-Neutral Reproduction, Time-Neutral Aging

(p.216) Chapter 7 Time-Neutral Reproduction, Time-Neutral Aging
Contingent Lives
University of Chicago Press

This chapter concerns the critical relation of strength, blood, and muscles to reproduction, noting that chronological age is seen as related only tangentially. It describes the character and pace of bodily decline and confronts the fact that chronological age does not necessarily coincide with physical senescence. There is a growing sense that the ethnographic subject's perspective must rise to the spirit of Gell's challenge of scrutiny. Natural fertility theory, as it has been applied to high-fertility regimes, suggests that women do not change their fertility behaviors according to the number of children born, although they may stop sexual life at menopause if grand-motherhood status demands. Evidence supporting the assertions about managing the pace and character of female senescence through reproduction comes from many sources. It comes from women's behaviors and stated desires about future pregnancies. A line of support for the argument that fertility experience is critical to women's physical condition is found in comparing variations in pregnancy histories among women who report that they are near the tipping point of reproductivity and who are of similar ages but different physical stages.

Keywords:   reproductivity, female senescence, pregnancies, fertility, menopause

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