Cultivating Reproductive Citizens: State And Fertility Practices In Turkey

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Health disparities
Social and Cultural Anthropology
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Murray, Genevra F

My dissertation is an ethnographic investigation of the politics of reproduction in Turkey. I situate reproductive practices within larger contexts of state building and the ongoing Turkish-Kurdish conflict, exploring the rapid yet uneven reduction in family size in Turkey. This work is steeped in a critical medical anthropology tradition and contributes to the empirical investigation of Foucaultian concepts of biopower and subjectification. I conducted 22 months of fieldwork in urban Ankara, including participant observation at the United Nations Population Fund Turkey office, and rural Adana, including participant observation with Kurdish migrant farm laborers. I conducted semi-structured interviews with a non-representative cross-sectional sample of 89 individuals in Ankara (33 men and 56 women) of childbearing age and beyond. I interviewed 59 individuals in Adana province, 41 (20 men; 21 women) in the camps, and 18 (all women) in the provincial capital, with individuals of varied age but all of lower socio-economic status. Semi-structured interviews solicited the respondent’s reproductive narrative and more directed questions about reproduction, contraception, development, and the state. I also conducted informal interviews with development workers, government officials, health personnel, condom marketers, and other relevant stakeholders. In addition, I collected newspaper articles from popular Turkish outlets and conducted archival research at the Hacettepe Institute of Population Studies and the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations. My research shows that individuals who embrace the two child ideal advance a notion of citizenship that is grounded in reproduction and aligned with the Turkish state building and development project. In this dominant model, quantification of childbearing becomes a mark of ideal citizenship, and a numerically based style of thought that links individual fertility practices with the larger polity is cultivated. I examine how traditional notions of masculinity and patriarchy in Turkey constitute rich grounds for the inclusion of men in fertility related reproductive health, highlighting links between masculinity and embodied citizenship in reducing family size. I juxtapose this dominant model of reproductive citizenship which hinges on the Turkish concept of bilinçlik (consciousness), to the approach to childbearing and citizenship expressed by minority Kurdish citizens, highlighting the politically fraught ‘nature’ of reproduction in Turkey.

Adriana . Petryna
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