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Making a Good LifeAn Ethnography of Nature, Ethics, and Reproduction$
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Katharine Dow

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167480

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167480.001.0001

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Origin Stories

Origin Stories

(p.107) 3 Origin Stories
Making a Good Life

Katharine Dow

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the importance of ideas of nature to how people in Spey Bay think about the relationship between maternal bonding and gender differences in parenting. It begins by outlining two women's experiences of giving birth that illustrate their ambivalence about medical and technological intervention in the birth process and, specifically, the importance of naturalness, knowledge, and care in their aspirations for a good birth. It then considers the ethics of care and responsibility in parenthood, along with people's experiences and observations about the maternal bond and specifically its relationship to bodily experience. In discussing maternal bonding, people were rarely specific about which particular aspects of biological motherhood led to the formation of a maternal bond. In seeking to protect “nature” and “natural” reproduction, people can end up protecting and reproducing established norms of gender and sexuality.

Keywords:   nature, maternal bonding, gender differences, parenting, naturalness, ethics, care, parenthood, motherhood, reproduction

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