Conclusion

The meanings, beliefs, and practices surrounding reproduction are structured historically and culturally by local and global forces (Ginsburg & Rapp, 1991, 1995; Greenhalgh, 1995; Jolly & Ram, 2001; Ram & Jolly, 1998). Reproductive experiences are structured by macro- and micro-relations of power, class, and gender politics in which relationships of power act selectively to encourage and empower certain groups of people to reproduce (Ginsburg & Rapp, 1991, 1995; Handwerker, 1990). An anthropology of reproductive health draws the researcher into the fundamental anthropological question of the problem and process of people's agency in daily life (Carter, 1995; Lock & Kaufert, 1998) and the degree to which intimate decisions, behavior, and practice are structured by social institutions, and the political economy. As demonstrated in the studies above, understanding of reproductive health behaviors and practices requires familiarity with the social, economic and cultural context, general therapeutic understandings, notions of embodiment, and core cultural concepts within a cultural setting. Large gaps remain in our knowledge of cultures of reproductive health and pose epistemological and methodological challenges for the discipline of medical anthropology.

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