1st Edition

Breastfeeding New Anthropological Approaches

    258 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    258 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Breastfeeding: New Anthropological Approaches unites sociocultural, biological, and archaeological anthropological scholarship to spark new conversations and research about breastfeeding. While breastfeeding has become the subject of intense debate in many settings, anthropological perspectives have played a limited role in these conversations. The present volume seeks to broaden discussions around breastfeeding by showcasing fresh insights gleaned from an array of theoretical and methodological approaches, which are grounded in the close study of people across the globe.

    Drawing on case studies and analyses of key issues in the field, the book highlights the power of anthropological research to illuminate the evolutionary, historical, biological, and sociocultural context of the complex, lived experience of breastfeeding. By bringing together researchers across three anthropological subfields, the volume seeks to produce transformative knowledge about human lactation, breastfeeding, and human milk.

    This book is a key resource for scholars of medical and biological anthropology, evolutionary biology, bioarchaeology, sociocultural anthropology, and human development. Lactation professionals and peer supporters, midwives, and others who support infant feeding will find the book an essential read.

    Foreword Penny Van Esterik

    1. Introduction: towards new anthropologies of breastfeeding Cecília Tomori, Aunchalee E. L. Palmquist and EA Quinn

    2. Beyond passive immunity: breastfeeding, milk and collaborative mother-infant immune systems Elizabeth M. Miller

    3. Consuming immunities: milk sharing and the social life of passive immunity Aunchalee E.L. Palmquist

    4. Breastsleeping in four cultures: comparative analysis of a biocultural body technique Cecília Tomori

    5. “Natural, like my hair”: conceptualizations of breastfeeding among African American women Sarah Sobonya

    6. Breastfeeding and body size Nicola L. Hawley and Pavane Gorrepati

    7. Mothers, milk, and morals: peer milk sharing as moral motherwork in Central Florida Beatriz M. Reyes-Foster and Shannon K. Carter

    8. Milk, medium chain fatty acids and human evolution EA Quinn

    9. Chestfeeding as gender fluid practice Michelle Walks

    10. Mixed-feeding in humans: evolution and current implications Melanie Martin

    11. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings: breastfeeding and weaning in the past Siân E. Halcrow, Charlotte L. King, Andrew R. Millard, Anne Marie E. Snoddy, Rachel M. Scott, Gail E. Elliott, Darren R. Gröcke, Hallie R. Buckley, Vivien G. Standen, and Bernardo T. Arriaza

    12. Shifting weanling’s optimum:  breastfeeding ecology and infant health in Yucatán Amanda Veile and Karen L. Kramer

    13. New mothers’ breastfeeding expectations, challenges, and the return to employment Carrie Hough, Erica Prussing, and Kayleigh Applegate

    14. Understanding and enabling breastfeeding in the context of maternal-infant needs Kristin P. Tully and Helen L. Ball

    Afterword: Breastfeeding: in search of the right questions James J. McKenna


    Cecília Tomori is an anthropologist and Director of Global Public Health and Community Health at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, USA.

    Aunchalee E. L. Palmquist is Assistant Professor of Maternal and Child Health at the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, USA.

    EA Quinn is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, USA.

    "Truly everything one could ever want to know about anthropological approaches to breastfeeding in the early 21st century, this volume includes cutting-edge research with multiple views from biological and sociocultural anthropologists and bioarchaeologists. It moves the discussion far beyond ‘breast is best’ and ‘it’s only natural’ and represents the very best of contemporary biocultural perspectives in anthropology. A ‘must read’ for health care providers, breastfeeding activists, policy makers, and everyone concerned about maternal and infant health." - Wenda Trevathan, New Mexico State University, USA

    "This compelling, challenging and illuminating book brings together cutting-edge research from the sub-fields of biological, bioarchaeological, and sociocultural anthropology, focusing upon human lactation, breastfeeding and breastmilk sharing. The integration of biological and sociocultural perspectives not only enhances our understanding but also provides ways forward for improving policy and practice in the field of breastfeeding." - Fiona Dykes, University of Central Lancashire, UK

    "Breastfeeding: New Anthropological Approaches provides a superbly-executed addition to research which should merit a place in the library of any scholar interested in the application of anthropological perspectives to understanding the dynamics of mother infant relationships." - Ellen Kendall in Childhood in the Past