Ethnographies of Breastfeeding : Cultural Contexts and Confrontations book cover
1st Edition

Ethnographies of Breastfeeding
Cultural Contexts and Confrontations

ISBN 9781474294447
Published June 30, 2016 by Routledge
288 Pages

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Book Description

Breastfeeding is an intimate and deeply rooted bodily practice, as well as a highly controversial sociocultural process which invokes strong reactions from advocates and opponents. Touching on a wide range of issues such as reproduction, sexuality, power and resources, and maternal and infant health, the controversies and cultural complexities underlying breastfeeding are immense.Ethnographies of Breastfeeding features the latest research on the topic. Some of the leading scholars in the field explore variations in breastfeeding practices from around the world. Based on empirical work in areas such as Brazil, West Africa, Darfur, Ireland, Italy, France, the UK and the US, they examine the cross-cultural challenges facing mothers feeding their infants.Reframing the traditional nature/culture debate, the book moves beyond existing approaches to consider themes such as surrogacy, the risk of milk banks, mother-to-mother sharing networks facilitated by social media, and the increasing bio-medicalization of breast milk, which is leading its transformation from process to product. A highly important contribution to global debates on breast milk and breastfeeding.

Table of Contents

Notes on ContributorsForewordPenny Van Esterik, York University, CanadaIntroductionTanya Cassidy and Abdullahi El Tom, both of National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland1. The Embodied Experience of Breastfeeding and the Product/Process Dichotomy in São Paolo, BrazilAlanna E. F. Rudzik, Durham University, UK2. Demedicalizing Breast Milk: The Discourses, Practices and Identities of Informal Milk SharingAunchalee Palmquist, Elon University, USA3. Historical Ethnography and the Meanings of Human Milk in IrelandTanya Cassidy, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland4. Between 'le corps maternel et le corps érotique': Exploring Women’s Experiences of Breastfeeding and Expressing in the UK and FranceCharlotte Faircloth, University of Kent, UK5. The Naturalist Discourse Surrounding Breastfeeding among French MothersGervaise Debucquet, Audencia Nantes School of Management, France, and Valérie Adt, L’Institut Interdisciplinaire du Contemporain, France6. 'Who knows if one day, in the future, they will get married...?': Considerations about Breast Milk, Migration and Milk Banking in ItalyRossella Cevese, Università degli Studi di Verona, Italy7. Religion, Wet-nursing and Laying the Ground for Breast Milk Banking in Darfur, SudanAbdullahi El Tom, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland8. Between Proscription and Control of Breastfeeding in West Africa: Women's Strategies Regarding Prevention of HIV TransmissionAlice Desclaux and Chiara Alfieri, both of Université d'Aix-Marseille, France9. 'Impersonal Perspectives' on Public Health Guidelines on Infant Feeding and HIV in MalawiAnne Matthews, Dublin City University, Ireland10. Breastfeeding and Bonding: Issues and Dilemmas in SurrogacySunita Reddy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, Tulsi Patel, University of Delhi, India, Birgitte Bruun Nielsen, Aarhus University, Denmark, and Malene Tanderup, Aarhus University, Denmark11. Breast Milk Donation as Care WorkKatherine Carroll, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia12. Women and Children First?: Gender, Power and Resources, and their Implications for Infant FeedingVanessa Maher, University of Verona, ItalyBibliographyIndex

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Tanya Cassidy is a research fellow at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland and is adjunct professor with the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology at the University of Windsor in Canada. Abdullahi El Tom is Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM), Ireland and was elected to the executive board of the European Association of Social Anthropologists in 2010.


"Anthropology not only can and must shed light on the cultural diversity and significance of the body parts and practices and their relation to wider factors and questions, but it can and must also confront assumptions and avoidances about these same parts and practices … Ethnographies of Breastfeeding breaks some new ground in anthropology and suggests some tantalizing and important new research directions. - Anthropology Review Database - David Eller Editors Cassidy and El Tom have put together a broad look at the modern and historical experience of breastfeeding. They consider not just the product and the process of breastfeeding but also the participants, including mothers, children, wet nurses, surrogates, and health care professionals. The collection takes an international perspective, focusing on South American countries, Middle Eastern Countries, and African countries as well as Europe and the US … Chapter notes, extensive bibliography. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. - CHOICE - S. Marks, University of Massachusetts, Lowell Offering much more than a study of conceptual shifts over time, the various takes on the ‘product’ and ‘process’ of milk feeding as a reproductive and socio-political conduct make [this] book a fascinating read ... A great addition to undergraduate and postgraduate studies of reproductive care and maternal and infant health. - The great thing about this book ... is its power, building on the strength of international global ethnographic evidence, to reconfigure debates about babies and human milk so that breastfeeding is no longer just about the imposition of obligations on individual women ... This book does not ignore this debate or this pressure - but rather it expands and reorganizes it - Blog review:"