By Caroline H. Bledsoe
Most girls within the West use contraceptives so as to keep away from having youngsters. yet in rural Gambia and different components of sub-Saharan Africa, many ladies use contraceptives for the other reason—to have as many kids as possible.Using ethnographic and demographic facts from a three-year research in rural Gambia, Contingent Lives explains this likely counterintuitive truth by way of juxtaposing very diverse understandings of the existence 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, specifically obstetric trauma. Viewing every one of those types from the viewpoint of the opposite, Caroline Bledsoe produces clean understandings of the classical anthropological topics of replica, time, and getting older as culturally formed inside of women's conjugal lives. Her insights could be welcomed by means of students of anthropology and demography in addition to by means of these operating in public wellbeing and fitness, improvement experiences, gerontology, and the heritage of drugs.
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Extra info for Contingent Lives: Fertility, Time, and Aging in West Africa (Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture Series, Volume 1999)
See Keller 1985 for an analogous strategy. 32 Chapter 1 ogy. Within this space, the book sets up a tension between a logic of linear time in the body versus one of contingency. Exploiting this tension on multiple fronts, it argues that we often err in substituting time for contingency and cumulativity in part because our own life experiences have led us in different directions. Besides these disciplinary bases, there are several thematic bases. The most fundamental is reproduction in the time-honored understandings of sociocultural anthropology: kinship, politics, marriage, the life course, domestic cycles, subsistence, and so on.
Contraceptives such as pills and Depo Provera hardly sound like materials that are deeply woven into the local history of a place like rural Gambia. But these technologies are becoming as integral to the commonsense tool kit for managing reproduction as relying on abstinence, Islamic medicine, or breastfeedinginduced amenorrhea. This does not mean that all of these methods are considered equally effective. Nor does it mean that they are considered equally appropriate for all women in every instance among those who use them.
21 What does all this mean for high fertility in Africa? Whereas we have come to believe that aging puts an end to reproduction, Gambian women see the relation as the reverse: reproduction causes the body to age, a process that, in turn, precludes further reproduction. 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.