Infertility in a Crowded Country
Hiding Reproduction in India
Published by: Indiana University Press
In Lucknow, the capital of India's most populous state, the stigmas and colonial legacies surrounding sexual propriety and population growth affect how Muslim women, often in poverty, cope with infertility.
In Infertility in a Crowded Country, Holly Donahue Singh draws on interviews, observation, and autoethnographic perspectives in local communities and Lucknow's infertility clinics to examine access to technology and treatments and to explore how pop culture shapes the reproductive paths of women and their supporters through clinical spaces, health camps, religious sites, and adoption agencies. Donahue Singh finds that women are willing to transgress social and religious boundaries to seek healing.
By focusing on interpersonal connections, Infertility in a Crowded Country provides a fascinating starting point for discussions of family, kinship, and gender; the global politics of reproduction and reproductive technologies; and ideologies and social practices around creating families.
Note on Transliteration
Introduction: Hiding Reproduction
1. Aulad: Reproductive Desires
2. Preludes to Aulad: Making Mothers
3. Clinical Dreams: Measuring Hope
4. Reproductive Realities: Managing Inequality
5. Quietly Planning Families: Misdirecting Convention
Conclusion: Reproductive Openings and Reproductive Justice in Contemporary India
Afterword: Family Plans, Or, Waiting for Aulad
This beautifully rendered ethnography makes visible the haunting social challenge of infertility for Indian women, and especially Muslim minority women, whose reproduction is always suspect. Stories of women's secret but valiant attempts to conceive animate the pages of this book, which is essential reading for scholars of gender, kinship, and religion in South Asia, as well as those interested in reproductive justice in the Global South.~Marcia C. Inhorn, author of Cosmopolitan Conceptions: IVF Sojourns in Global Dubai
By focusing on infertility, this book fills a huge gap in the study of reproduction in India. Bringing together material from Indian films, literature, extensive ethnography, and her own experiences as a daughter-in-law in India, Holly Donahue Singh weaves an anthropologically informed and fascinating account of people's reproductive desires framed by the real world of inequalities and lack of reproductive justice. Yet, it is not all doom and gloom as people forge their way out of difficulties or find new paths outside of reproductive mandates.~Ravinder Kaur, Professor of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
While the story of female reproductive systems has multiple dimensions, Holly Donahue Singh's narrative introduces us to a fascinating picture of how such dimensions find expressions in everyday life and popular cultures. With an in-depth understanding of vernacular symbols, metaphorization, and narrative strategies, this book moves the reader closer to a setting where the ordinariness of life emerges as an intriguing space to rethink various complex processes. In addition, this book provides a gendered lens to translate multilayered theoretical aspects. Singh's sensibilities and careful observations make this work more accessible as well.~Afsar Mohammad, author of The Festival of Pirs: Popular Islam and Shared Devotion in South India