Anthropology of Breast-Feeding : Natural Law or Social Construct book cover
1st Edition

Anthropology of Breast-Feeding
Natural Law or Social Construct

ISBN 9780854968145
Published April 30, 1992 by Routledge
224 Pages

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Book Description

On the whole, the debates surrounding the issues of breast-feeding - often reflecting ethnographic and ill-informed medical and demographic approaches - have failed to treat the deeper issues. The significance of breast-feeding reaches far beyond its biological function; in fact, the authors of this volume argue, there is nothing `natural' about breast-feeding itself. On the contrary, attitudes and practices are socially determined, and breast-feeding has to be seen as an essential element in the cultural construction of sexuality.This volume offers an `ethnography' of breast-feeding by examining cultural norms and practices in a number of European and non-European societies, thus presenting valuable and often astonishing empirical material that is not otherwise readily available. The highly original focus of this volume therefore throws new light on gender and on social relationships in general.

Table of Contents

V. Maher, Breast-Feeding in Cross-cultural Perspective: Paradoxes and Proposals - M.-L. Creyghton, Breast-Feeding and Baraka in Northern Tunisia - F. Balsamo, G. De Mari, V. Maher, and R. Serini, Production and Pleasure: Research on Breast-Feeding in Turin - K. Hastrup, A Question of Reason: Breast-Feeding Patterns in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Iceland - J. Khatib-Chahidi, Milk Kinship in Shi'ite Islamic Iran - C. Panter-Brick, Working Mothers in Rural Nepal - V. Maher, Breast-Feeding and Maternal Depletion: Natural Law or Cultural Arrangements?

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Vanessa A Maher Associate Professor in Cultural Anthropology,University of Turin, former Research Fellow, Centre for Cross-Cultural Research on Women, University of Oxford


"This is a fascinating, thoughtful book. - Nursing Times ...a valuable addition to the excellent ""Cross-cultural Perspectives on Women"" series. - Choice a book of cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary significance. - West Africa The book takes its place among recent anthropological literature that locates the occurrence of natural, universal phenomena squarely in a social context. - JASO"