The Anthropology of Reproduction and the Man-Woman Pendulum
2005 American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting
November 30 - December 4, 2005
In line with this yearís theme of past, present and future, the goal of this panel is to reflect upon gender dynamics within the discipline of anthropology, and to explore how they have shaped current research within the anthropology of reproduction. Weiner (1979) argued that the roots of the anthropology of reproduction can really be found in earlier studies of kinship and social reproduction, such as The Gift. In these works, women were seen simply as producers, while men were portrayed as dynamic, taking on all other roles. Non-coincidentally (as many feminist writers have remarked), at that point, the discipline of anthropology was also dominated by male researchers. In the late 60s and throughout the 70s, with the rise of second wave feminism and the increase of women in the discipline, women, as compelling subjects in and of themselves, became the focus of much anthropological study. During this period, topics that were meaningful to women, such as birth, gained center stage. Shifting the analysis away from women as merely producers within a culture to reproduction as a locus of culture contributed to a richer overall disciplinary understanding. As we have entered the 21st century, the field of anthropology is becoming more and more feminized. Perhaps not coincidentally, women have remained the focus of the anthropology of reproduction for 30 plus years. However, just as a well-rounded understanding of women is missing from early reproductive anthropological accounts, a nuanced understanding of men's issues in relation to reproduction is currently lacking. Accordingly, both male and female researchers have begun to turn their attention toward topics ranging from fatherhood to male infertility.
We seek participants for this panel whose research can help us achieve a deeper understanding of this man-woman pendulum. Questions that we would like to see addressed include (but are not limited to):
How has/does/will this the man-woman pendulum shape(d) the content of our research around the anthropology of reproduction?
How has/does/will the shifting demographics within the discipline impact(ed) our study of reproduction?
How has/does/will our research profit(ed) or suffer(ed) from the exclusive focus on women?
What are the restrictions that gender imposes on research concerning reproduction?
Are female anthropologists better at researching men (currently, or previously?) then men were at researching women during the beginning of the last century? Are men currently in a position to effectively research women?
How do you approach the anthropology of reproduction in ways that transcend the male-female binary, yet present a rich understanding of the significance of gender dynamics within anthropology?
Some past studies of women and reproduction have elided the role of men, who, as a result, were only mentioned in their role as genitors. Interestingly, the rise of NRTs have enable many families where a manís role has been narrowed to that of sperm donor. What is the significance of fathers and kinship when no biological father is actively present?
If you would be interested in participating in this panel, please send a 250 word abstract with title to Nicole Berry firstname.lastname@example.org and Nicole Gallicchio email@example.com by MARCH 28th.
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