Intentions, Desires, and Compulsions? Ethnographic Perspectives on Infertility from India

Holly D. Singh, University of Michigan

This paper will engage perspectives of women for whom infertility problems impede their ability to translate fertility intentions into families and desires for children into children they desire and value. I will draw on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India, over 16 months between 2005 and 2007. Lucknow is the capital of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, and a city with over 4 million residents. I will demonstrate how, in the context of infertility in northern India, fertility intentions extend into the realms of desire and compulsion and beyond individuals and couples to encompass extended families, including children, neighbors, and, at times, religious and political leaders. Evidence from the north Indian context on infertility suggests that the notion of family planning requires expansion to more fully include the fertility intentions of people for whom children have come "too late," or have been "too few."

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Fertility Intentions and Behaviors