the pregnancy project
Readings on reproduction

Anthropological and historical perspectives on reproduction

There has been enormous interest in issues of reproduction among scholars, especially anthropologists and historians.  If you are curious about the directions that scholarship on reproduction has taken, here are some references that might interest you.  These references come from bibliographies that I prepared for examinations required in order to advance from pre-candidate to candidate for the PhD in anthropology at the University of Michigan.

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Childbearing and childbirth in the United States


Caton, Donald. 1999. What a Blessing She Had Chloroform: The Medical and Social Response to the Pain of Childbirth from 1800 to the Present. New Haven: Yale University Press.


Davis-Floyd, Robbie. 1992. Birth as an American Rite of Passage. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Davis-Floyd, Robbie and Carolyn Sargent, editors. 1997. Childbirth and Authoritative Knowledge: Cross-Cultural Perspectives.  Berkeley: University of California Press.


Ehrenreich, Barbara, and Deirdre English. 1978. For Her Own Good: 150 Years of the Experts' Advice to Women. Garden City: Anchor Press.

Jordan, Brigitte. 1978. Birth in Four Cultures: A Crosscultural Investigation of Childbirth in Yucatan, Holland, Sweden, and the United States. St. Albans: Eden Press Women's Publications.

Leavitt, Judith Walzer. 1984. Brought to Bed: Childbearing in America, 1750 to 1950. New York: Oxford University Press.


Oakley, Ann. 1984. The Captured Womb: A History of the Medical Care of Pregnant Women. New York, N.Y.: B. Blackwell.


Wertz, Richard W., and Dorothy C. Wertz. 1989. Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America. New Haven: Yale University Press.


Reproductive technologies


Franklin, Sarah and Helena Ragone, editors. 1998. Reproducing Reproduction: Kinship, Power, and Technological Innovation. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 


Ginsburg, Faye and Rayna Rapp, editors. 1995.  Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Assisted conception


Becker, Gay. 2000. The Elusive Embryo: How Women and Men Approach New Reproductive Technologies. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Kahn, Susan Martha. 2000. Reproducing Jews: A Cultural Account of Assisted Conception in Israel. Durham: Duke University Press.


Diagnostic technologies


Rapp, Rayna. 1999. Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America. New York: Routledge.


Rothman, Barbara Katz. 1986. The Tentative Pregnancy: Prenatal Diagnosis and the Future of Motherhood. New York: Viking.

Reproductive subjects and bodies


Blum, Linda M. 1999. At the Breast: Ideologies of Breastfeeding and Motherhood in the Contemporary United States. Boston: Beacon Press.


Delaney, Carol Lowery. 1991. The Seed and the Soil: Gender and Cosmology in Turkish Village Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Klaus, Alisa. 1993. Every Child a Lion: The Origins of Maternal and Infant Health Policy in the United States and France, 1890-1920. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.


Martin, Emily. 1992 [1987]. The Woman in the Body: A Cultural Analysis of Reproduction. Boston: Beacon Press.


Matthews, Sandra, and Laura Wexler. 2000. Pregnant Pictures. New York: Routledge.


Morgan, Lynn and Meredith Michaels, Meredith W. 1999. Fetal Subjects, Feminist Positions. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.


Pernick, Martin S. 1996. The Black Stork: Eugenics and the Death of "Defective" Babies in American Medicine and Motion Pictures since 1915. New York: Oxford University Press. 


Whitaker, Elizabeth Dixon. 2000. Measuring Mamma's milk: Fascism and the Medicalization of Maternity in Italy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.


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Doctoral Candidate
Department of Anthropology and
Center for the Ethnography of Everyday Life
University of Michigan