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Pregnancy in Practice: Expectation and Experience in the Contemporary US

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Volume 25

Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality: Social and Cultural Perspectives

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Pregnancy in Practice

Expectation and Experience in the Contemporary US

Sallie Han

206 pages, 6 illus., bilbiog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-987-9 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (July 2013)

ISBN  978-1-78238-792-3 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (July 2015)

eISBN 978-0-85745-988-6 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook! $34.95info on epub formatRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


Pregnancy in Practice is a feminist contribution to the anthropology of reproduction in that it explores the quotidian experiences of pregnant women…While her sample is by no means statistically representative of the experiences of American women, the women in her ethnography represent the normative prenatal experience in America. Han successfully demonstrates that the concept of an ‘ordinary’ or ‘norma’ pregnancy is a phantom itself. Because of this work, perhaps we can definitively say that all women have ordinary pregnancies, or perhaps none do.” · Association for Feminist Anthropology Review

“Han provides some thought-provoking insights…[and] shows the ability to step back and survey the landscape as a researcher but also to lean in to the experiences of her research subjects…She adeptly navigates the translation of those experiences into a scholarly project and lays the foundation for future work on this topic. Significantly expanding the demographics of our research bases will allow us to move past the era when the white experience still defines the “ordinary” experience for all.” · Journal of the Motherhood Initiative

“A particular strength of the book is that Han demonstrates the complex ways that women experience the various practices that are sometimes criticized for prioritizing the fetus, medicine and technology over the mother…[It]offers scholars insight into theorizing the ordinary. At the same time, it is quite accessible to students. It would be an excellent addition to a course on the sociology or anthropology of reproduction.” · Gender & Society

This book will be central to further discussions in the field of reproduction and birth. It is of interest to students and scholars more broadly in economic and medical Anthropology and in the sociology of the family.· Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale

The author takes an insightful look at an understudied phenomenon: that of ordinary pregnancy. She rightly notes that much scholarship has documented birth and the medicalization of pregnancy. Not enough attention has been paid to the mundane aspects of pregnancy. While an analysis of the quotidian might seem boring, it is when scholars problematize the everyday (the things we take for granted) that new insights are revealed.” · Miranda Waggoner, Princeton University


Babies are not simply born—they are made through cultural and social practices. Based on rich empirical work, this book examines the everyday experiences that mark pregnancy in the US today, such as reading pregnancy advice books, showing ultrasound “baby pictures” to friends and co-workers, and decorating the nursery in anticipation of the new arrival. These ordinary practices of pregnancy, the author argues, are significant and revealing creative activities that produce babies. They are the activities through which babies are made important and meaningful in the lives of the women and men awaiting the child’s birth. This book brings into focus a topic that has been overlooked in the scholarship on reproduction and will be of interest to professionals and expectant parents alike.

Sallie Han is Associate Professor of Anthropology at SUNY College at Oneonta.

Dr. Sallie Han discusses her work on Academic Minute, January 2014. Link to article | Link to audio file

Subject: Medical Anthropology
Area: North America


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