Breastfeeding : New Anthropological Approaches book cover
1st Edition

New Anthropological Approaches

ISBN 9781138502871
Published December 20, 2017 by Routledge
258 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Translating conversations: bridging biological and social approaches to breastfeeding 1. Introduction: towards new anthropologies of breastfeeding  2. Beyond passive immunity: breastfeeding, milk and collaborative mother-infant immune systems  3. Consuming immunities: milk sharing and the social life of passive immunity  4. Breastsleeping in four cultures: comparative analysis of a biocultural body technique  5. “Natural, like my hair”: conceptualizations of breastfeeding among African American women  6. Breastfeeding and body size  7. Mothers, milk, and morals: peer milk sharing as moral motherwork in Central Florida  8. Milk medium chain fatty acids and human evolution 9. Chestfeeding as gender fluid practice  10. Mixed-feeding in humans: evolution and current implications  11. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings: breastfeeding and weaning in the past  12. Shifting weanling’s optimum:  breastfeeding ecology and infant health in Yucatán  13. New mothers’ breastfeeding expectations, challenges, and the return to employment  14. Understanding and enabling breastfeeding in the context of maternal-infant needs  Afterword: Breastfeeding: in search of the right questions

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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