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Title:Bodily risks, spiritual risks: contrasting discourses on pregnancy in a rural Tanzanian community
Author(s):Roth, Denise Marie
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Gottlieb, Alma J.
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
History, African
Health Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Women's Studies
Health Sciences, Public Health
Abstract:In this dissertation I examine the cultural construction of risk in the context of pregnancy and childbirth in a small, rural community in the Shinyanga Region of west-central Tanzania. My argument is that there are "official" and "unofficial" definitions of these risks, and that although both address the similar domains of fertility and health, their respective definitions of what constitutes "risk" are often times strikingly different. I define as "official" the various factors that have been identified by policy makers at the international and national levels as posing risks to maternal health. I define as "unofficial" those risks that, although valid for community members at the local level, do not become part of any official policy. I argue more specifically that "official" definitions of risk do not always accurately reflect the realities of rural women's experiences of pregnancy and childbirth; that these incomplete or inaccurate definitions of risk sometimes lead to the development of inadequate solutions for reducing maternal mortality rates in Tanzania; and that some of the solutions proposed at the international and national levels as a result of relying exclusively on "official" definitions are, in turn, perceived as risks themselves by local community members.
This study is based on twenty-two months of fieldwork in a geographic region of Tanzania that is often referred to as the "home" of the Sukuma people. Throughout this dissertation, I examine the cultural and ethnic diversity that characterized the community of study, a heterogeneity that was also reflected in the range of local practices associated with the management of risk during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.
My approach to this study has been influenced by the idea that a contextualization of everyday practice is crucial to an understanding of the complexity of everyday life. By highlighting the diversity in rural women's experience of pregnancy and childbirth, and by foregrounding their own analyses of the various factors that pose risks to their well being, we will see not only the ways in which material conditions interact with individual and collective symbolic schemes, but how historical processes, notions of identity, and relations of power are part of that complexity.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Roth, Denise Marie
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712421
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712421

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