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The Anthropology of the Fetus: Biology, Culture, and Society

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Volume 37

Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality: Social and Cultural Perspectives

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The Anthropology of the Fetus

Biology, Culture, and Society

Edited by Sallie Han, Tracy K. Betsinger, and Amy B. Scott
Foreword by Rayna Rapp

316 pages, 19 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-691-1 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (October 2017)

ISBN  978-1-78920-501-5 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (August 2019)

eISBN 978-1-78533-692-8 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“This volume, offering a breadth of perspectives on the human foetus, appears at an important time. As the editors compellingly show in rich and complex detail, foetuses cannot exist apart from maternal bodies, and efforts to separate the two are further manifestations of the perennial struggle over who controls human reproduction.” • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI)

“This rich collection of work demonstrates that constructs surrounding the beginnings of life are deeply embedded within a specific historical and cultural context. There is no one truth about the foetus or its development, personhood or place in the world. Indeed, it is when we focus on the foetus that our long-held constructs regarding personhood, the life course and the body start to appear shaky, prompting a reconfiguration of the current edifice.” • Childhood in the Past. An International Journal

The Anthropology of the Fetus is a rich and ambitious volume. The contributors draw on cutting-edge research and deep knowledge of their fields to further our understanding of the complex and liminal beings we call fetuses (the definitional subtleties of which are discussed throughout). Needless to say, the volume’s interdisciplinary breadth makes it a valuable resource for both teachers and researchers.” • Medical Anthropology Quarterly

“The volume’s contribution to scholarship and methods about fetuses and reproduction is first-rate.” • Anthropos

“This is an outstanding collection of articles, all based on original research, giving the volume a fresh feel.” • Eugenia Georges, Rice University


As a biological, cultural, and social entity, the human fetus is a multifaceted subject which calls for equally diverse perspectives to fully understand. Anthropology of the Fetus seeks to achieve this by bringing together specialists in biological anthropology, archaeology, and cultural anthropology. Contributors draw on research in prehistoric, historic, and contemporary sites in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and North America to explore the biological and cultural phenomenon of the fetus, raising methodological and theoretical concerns with the ultimate goal of developing a holistic anthropology of the fetus.

Sallie Han is Associate Professor of Anthropology at SUNY Oneonta, and past chair of the Council on Anthropology and Reproduction. She is the author of Pregnancy in Practice: Expectation and Experience in the Contemporary US (Berghahn Books, 2013).

Tracy K. Betsinger is Associate Professor of Anthropology at SUNY Oneonta. She conducts bioarchaeological studies of health and mortuary patterns with medieval/post-medieval European populations and prehistoric populations from the Southeastern United States.

Amy B. Scott is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Brunswick. Her research interests include biochemical analyses of health and stress, skeletal growth and development, and mortuary burial patterns in medieval and post-medieval Europe and 18th century Atlantic Canada.

Subject: Medical AnthropologyGender Studies and SexualityCultural Studies (General)


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