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Matters of Life and Longing is based on eleven months of ethnographic fieldwork in a low-income neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city Recife,
Northeast Brazil. Having lived in the neighbourhood as a wife and a mother of two children, Anne Line Dalsgaard describes women's motives for accepting
and often actively seeking sterilisation. Through a vivid and thoughtful analysis she shows sterilisation to be both a symptom of structural constraints and a resource - a means by which women gain a sense of control over their lives.
The major theoretical contribution of the book is its demonstration of the ways in which phenomenology can be used as a tool in critical social analysis.
Through a focus on the basic human need for recognition Dalsgaard describes women's desire to be valuable in other people's opinion and the dependency
on others that this desire implies. By linking fertility and sterilisation to existential dilemmas of autonomy and dependency, she ties individual agency, hopes and longings to historical processes and forces of power and economy, and thus moves away from simplistic dichotomies of mind/body, history/biography.
Matters of Life and Longing is a lucid and accessible work, which will be of interest to a wide and varied audience with an interest in Latin America, reproductive health, gender studies or anthropological discussions on agency and motivation.
Anne Line Dalsgaard is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Aarhus, Denmark.
Prologue: Motherhood in the midst of poverty and violence
Chapter One: Introduction
Female sterilisation in Brazil
A phenomenological perspective
Plan of work
Chapter Two: The Fieldwork
Entering the field
My position in the field
Chapter Three: The Neighbourhood
An inhabited place
The larger world
Living on a tightrope
Chapter Four: Fertility and History
Power over life
The Brazilian fertility decline
Tubal ligation in Camaragibe
The control of bodies
Chapter Five: Fertility and Recognition
A need for recognition
Low status lives
The embodiment of change
Chapter Six: Fertility and Home
Being a mother among mothers
Chapter seven: Conclusion
Epilogue: Kitchen stories
"An Honorable Mention goes to Anne Line Dalsgaard’s meticulous, thoughtful and beautifully written ethnography, Matters of Life and Longing: Female Sterilization in Northeast Brazil (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2004). This study seeks to place the high rates of sterilization found among poor women in urban Brazil in the context of their everyday struggles to find self-respect and autonomy under precarious conditions. Dalsgaard successfully achieves that difficult balance between attending to the workings of individual agency while giving due weight to the structural inequalities that so constrain it. Sterilization is understood as one of the few means through which women can exert control over their own lives and achieve recognition from others in the favela environment. A first book derived from the author’s doctoral research, the judges found this to be an unusually mature work offering a fresh approach that deserves particular acknowledgement."
- SMA (Society of Medical Anthropology) awards: Basker Prize 2004
"...it is a pleasure to read the writing of someone so clearly enthusiastic about her fieldsite and interlocutors, the importance of her research, and the anthropological project more gererally."
- Jessaca Leinaweaver, Social Anthropology
Samtlige udgivelser på forlaget med - |
Anne Line Dalsgaard som forfatter
Matters of Life and Longing
2011, ISBN 978-87-635-2572-5, e-publikation
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