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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

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316 pages, 19 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-691-1 25% OFF! $160.00/£114.00 $120.00/£85.50 Hb Published (October 2017)

ISBN  978-1-78920-501-5 25% OFF! $34.95/£24.00 $26.21/£18.00 Pb Published (August 2019)

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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 Anthropology Gender Studies General Cultural Studies



Foreword: How/Shall We Consider the Fetus?
Rayna Rapp

Introduction: Conceiving the Anthropology of the Fetus: An Introduction
Sallie Han, Tracy K. Betsinger, and Amy B. Scott


Chapter 1. The Borderless Fetus: Temporal Complexity of the Lived Fetal Experience
Julienne Rutherford

Chapter 2. The Biology of the Fetal Period: Interpreting Life from Fetal Skeletal Remains
Kathleen Ann Satterlee Blake

Chapter 3. Pregnant with Ideas: Concepts of the Fetus in the Twenty-First Century United States
Sallie Han


Chapter 4. The Bioarchaeology of Fetuses
Siân E. Halcrow, Nancy Tayles, and Gail E. Elliott

Chapter 5. Fetal Paleopathology: An Impossible Discipline?
Mary E. Lewis

Chapter 6. The Neolithic Infant Cemetery at Gebel Ramlah in Egypt’s Western Desert
Jacek Kabaciński, Agnieszka Czekaj-Zastawny, and Joel D. Irish

Chapter 7. Excavating Identity: Burial Context and Fetal Identity in Post-Medieval Poland
Amy B. Scott and Tracy K. Betsinger


Chapter 8. Waiting: The Redemption of Frozen Embryos through Embryo Adoption and Stem Cell Research in the United States
Risa D. Cromer

Chapter 9. Deploying the Fetus: Constructing Pregnancy and Abortion in Morocco
Jessica Marie Newman

Chapter 10. Beyond Life Itself: The Embedded Fetuses of Russian Orthodox Anti-Abortion Activism
Sonja Luehrmann

Chapter 11. The “Sound” of Life: Or How Should We Hear a Fetal “Voice”?
Rebecca Howes-Mischel

Tracy K. Betsinger, Amy B. Scott, and Sallie Han


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