Pregnancy and the anthropology of reproduction

Elly Teman, Tsipy Ivry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Pregnancy is never an unmarked category; in every society, it is the occasion for special attention and specialized treatment, in forms that vary widely. Over the past two decades, anthropologists and sociologists of reproduction have shown great interest in the (mainly techno-medical) events encountered during pregnancy, yet surprisingly few studies have taken pregnancy as a meaningful unit of ethnographic analysis. This chapter develops Ivry’s (2010a, 2015) call to move pregnancy to the center of the anthropology of reproduction through ethnographic attention to the lived experience of pregnancy, including the long term embodied and emotional procreative labor that pregnancy involves, and the meanings it takes in local political ecologies of reproduction. In the following, we examine the way that pregnancy is shaped by the culture in a community where pregnancy is formulated both as a way of life—not a one- to two-time “out of ordinary” event—as well as an act or route of practicing religious devotion. Looking at the pregnancy experiences of ultra-Orthodox Jewish (Haredi) women from a cosmological perspective that pays attention to the lived experience of pregnancy provides a powerful example of what can be gained when pregnancy is taken as a unit of social analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Anthropology and Reproduction
EditorsSalie Han, Celia Tomori
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
ISBN (Electronic)9781003216452
ISBN (Print)9780367278366
StatePublished - 2021


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