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Fertility, Conjuncture, Difference: Anthropological Approaches to the Heterogeneity of Modern Fertility Declines

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Volume 36

Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality: Social and Cultural Perspectives

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Fertility, Conjuncture, Difference

Anthropological Approaches to the Heterogeneity of Modern Fertility Declines

Edited by Philip Kreager and Astrid Bochow

358 pages, 1 illus., 22 figures, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-604-1 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (September 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-605-8 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $34.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“Philip Kreager and Astrid Bochow’s edited Fertility, conjuncture, difference is a convincing continuation of critical discussions which began in the mid-1990s about, on the one hand, using anthropological approaches in order to understand the heterogeneity of modern reproductive change and, on the other, the possibilities for creating an anthropological demography. This effort is tackled in the volume’s extraordinary introduction, in which the editors outline the innovative research strategy – combining conjunctural action and compositional difference – needed to unravel the continuing diversity of fertility world-wide.” • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI)

“This volume offers much needed empirical support to the concept of vital conjunctures, but it also provides a more theoretical discussion explaining the reproductive decision-making beyond the mere economic rationality of the actors. The fact that demographic explanations should pay closer attention to the compositional effects, achieved through the individual agency within the “multiple potential futures” stands as the biggest strength of the book.”  • Anthropological Notebooks

“Outstanding. This volume follows in a distinct lineage of both historically and anthropologically-informed critical studies of the demographic analysis of fertility decline and reproductive change. It is an excellent addition to that corpus of work.” • Simon Szreter, St John’s College, Cambridge


In the last forty years anthropologists have made major contributions to understanding the heterogeneity of reproductive trends and processes underlying them. Fertility transition, rather than the story of the triumphant spread of Western birth control rationality, reveals a diversity of reproductive means and ends continuing before, during, and after transition. This collection brings together anthropological case studies, placing them in a comparative framework of compositional demography and conjunctural action.  The volume addresses major issues of inequality and distribution which shape population and social structures, and in which fertility trends and the formation and size of families are not decided solely or primarily by reproduction.

Philip Kreager is Senior Research Fellow in Human Sciences, Somerville College; Director, Fertility and Reproduction Studies Group, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology; and Reseach Associate, Department of Sociology, Oxford University. He has written extensively on the history and conceptual development of population theory and analysis in European culture, and on comparative family systems and anthropological demography.

Astrid Bochow is Lecturer in Social Anthropology, Georg August Univeristät Göttingen, and Associate of the Fertility and Reproduction Studies Group, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford University.

Subject: Medical Anthropology Gender Studies


List of Illustrations, Figures and Tables

Philip Kreager and Astrid Bochow

Chapter 1. The Key to Fertility: Generation, Reproduction and Class Formation in a Namibian Community
Julia Pauli

Chapter 2. Becoming and Belonging in African Historical Demography, 1900-2000
Sarah Walters
This chapter is open access under a Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY)

Chapter 3. Between the Central Laws of Moscow and Local Particularity: The Reproduction of Subgroups in the South of Tajikistan
Sophie Roche and Sophie Hohmann

Chapter 4. Feeling Secure to Reproduce: Economy, Community and Fertility in Southern Europe
Patrick Heady

Chapter 5. Ambivalent Men: Male Dilemmas and Fertility Control in Senegal
Sara Randall, Nathalie Mondain, and Alioune Diagne

Chapter 6. Accounting for Reproductive Difference: Sociality, Temporality and Individuality during Pregnancy in Cameroon
Erica van der Sijpt

Chapter 7. Understanding Childlessness in Botswana: Reproduction and Tswana-nization of Middle-Class Identities in the Twenty-First Century
Astrid Bochow

Chapter 8. Low Fertility and Secret Family Planning in Lesotho
Lena L. Kroeker

Chapter 9. ‘The Doctor’s Way’: Traditional Contraception and Modernity in Cambodia
Eleanor Hukin

Chapter 10. Demographers on Culture: Fertility, Nuptiality, Family Structures
Yves Charbit and Véronique Petit

Chapter 11. Vital Conjunctures Revisited
Jennifer A. Johnson-Hanks


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