Toward Global Anthropological Studies of Reproduction
Concepts, Methods, Theoretical Approaches
espite unprecedented levels of transnational migration and global
of communication, commodities, and medical technologies,
there remains a dearth of creative, new anthropological research inves-
tigating the impact of these processes on human reproductive activities
(Barnard 2000; Ginsburg and Rapp 1995; Inda and Rosaldo 2002; Van
Hollen 2003). To help ameliorate this situation, in June 2006 we con-
vened a workshop with eighteen scholars from Asia, Africa, Western
Europe, and the United States. Our objectives were to enhance under-
standing of the consequences for reproduction, reproductive health,
and reproductive rights of escalating globalization processes as they in-
tersect with state, regional, and local structures, policies, and practices,
and to develop nuanced concepts and methodological approaches for
investigating these interactions.
The chapters that follow show that the theories, concepts, and meth-
ods of global ethnography are particularly well suited for exploring these
dialectical processes across a range of ethnographic contexts (Burawoy
2000b; Whiteford and Manderson 2000). Their aims are threefold: to
better define and operationalize the concepts of global, state, local, and
individual in relation to reproductive activities in the contemporary
world; to achieve a more meaningful conceptualization of human agency
through finely textured analyses of diverse facets of reproduction and
reproductive health; and to move beyond the limitations of conventional
methodology to develop better strategies for research in this domain.
Crosscutting the various chapters is a core question: to what extent
might it be meaningful to conceptualize a global anthropology of repro-
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