We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Family Secrets

Risking Reproduction in Central Mozambique

Rachel R. Chapman

Publication Year: 2010

Behind a thatched hut, a birthing woman bleeds to death only minutes from "life-saving" maternity care. Chapman begins with the deceptively simple question, "Why don’t women in Mozambique use existing prenatal and maternity services?" then widens her analysis to include a whole universe of cultural, political, and economic forces. Fusing cultural anthropology with political economy, Chapman vividly demonstrates how neoliberalism and the increasing importance of the market have led to changing sexual and reproductive strategies for women. Pregnant herself during her research, Chapman interviewed 83 women during pregnancy and postpartum. She discovered that the social relations surrounding traditional Shona practices, Christian faith healing, and Western biomedical treatments are as important to women’s choices as the efficacy of the therapies.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (451.1 KB)

Table of Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF (446.9 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (448.1 KB)
pp. ix-xiv


read more

1. Reproduction on the Margins

pdf iconDownload PDF (606.5 KB)
pp. 1-35

It is early morning, and patches of mist linger by the roadside. I yawn as I stand in line at the little bakery in the town of Gondola, where I frequently buy loaves of warm bread to eat with Dona Javelina Aguiar, my research assistant, before heading out for a day of work. On these mornings, Javelina’s two sons and a flock of cousins and neighbors’ children dart in and out of ...

read more

2. The Road to Mucessua

pdf iconDownload PDF (640.3 KB)
pp. 36-67

Radical hope first drew me to Mozambique. In 1989, I was active in the anti-apartheid movement in Los Angeles, California, where I worked with a local branch of a national grassroots organization, the Mozambique Sup-port Network. Its objectives were community outreach and education about Mozambique and the externally funded civil war there that began soon after ...

read more

3. The Nova Vida

pdf iconDownload PDF (629.2 KB)
pp. 68-104

In Mozambique, I am always caught off guard by the juxtaposition of contrasts. The way beauty and pain often resided side by side, or a scene of violence could give way to tenderness or, equally often, the reverse, evoked amazement mixed with despair, elation wrapped in dismay. I saw contrasts everywhere; in the profuse purple bougainvillea erupting from the lower ...

read more

4. Reproducing Reproducers

pdf iconDownload PDF (642.0 KB)
pp. 105-144

“It was so hard to conceive. It was my first husband who couldn’t conceive. We searched for treatment as far away as Zimbabwe. I finally conceived a child with another man after my family counseled me to leave and divorce my husband. I always loved that first man, but he had always blamed me [for the infertility] and never accepted treatment himself. I did not make any ...

read more

5. Controlling Women: Reproducing Risk

pdf iconDownload PDF (621.2 KB)
pp. 145-182

In Mucessua, people around me paid as much attention to the invisible and the unseen as they did to the visible, as they navigated a world vigorously inhabited by spirits and animated by rumors, gossip, prayers, rituals, and magic (West 2005). Another force at work in every aspect of Mozambican life is the not so invisible hand of the market. Under economic reform policies and ...

read more

6. Seeking Safe Passage: Pregnancy Risk and Prenatal Care

pdf iconDownload PDF (579.9 KB)
pp. 183-209

“Ah, Dona Raquel. Since we last met, I have suffered so terribly.” Two weeks after giving birth, exquisite, cherub-faced Amelia was puffy in the cheeks, dark under the eyes, and thinner than I had ever seen her. Her health had been poor on and off near the end of her pregnancy, but she had given birth to a healthy baby boy, James, named after my husband. She proudly held ...

read more

7. Segredos da Casa

pdf iconDownload PDF (523.1 KB)
pp. 210-223

No one dies of natural causes in Mozambique. People may have heard of someone who lived the right life and died peacefully in old age, but nobody actually knows this person. For a person to have an accident or to become sick and then to die, there has to have been some breach of protection, and people work hard at finding it. Following a death, there are always stories ...

read more

8. AIDS and the Politics of Protection

pdf iconDownload PDF (589.9 KB)
pp. 224-252

Each time I have returned to Mucessua over the last ten years, it seems at first that very little has changed. There are still no paved roads or city plumbing, except in the older colonial houses along the Beira Corridor. The district’s largest open-air market has moved west down the Corridor, but the bazaar, as it is called, and the individual market stands in the bairro look ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (472.6 KB)
pp. 225-258


pdf iconDownload PDF (551.6 KB)
pp. 259-276


pdf iconDownload PDF (496.1 KB)
pp. 277-290

E-ISBN-13: 9780826517197
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826517173

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2010