of Reproduction

Making Modern Mothers book cover

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Council on Anthropology and Reproduction

Making Modern Mothers:
Ethics and Family Planning in Urban Greece

by Heather Paxson
University of California Press - find out more about the book! - search inside the book!

"Whether addressing abortion, family planning, or pronatalist population policy, Paxson has perfect pitch, grounding these issues in women's stories, concerns, and dilemmas as they seek to achieve and embody a sense of modern Greek femininity." -- Faye Ginsburg, author of Contested Lives

"An arresting book. . . . It is a powerful commentary on the cultural specificities of morality in the modern world." -- Michael Herzfeld, author of Cultural Intimacy
In Greece, women speak of mothering as "within the nature" of a woman. But this durable association of motherhood with femininity exists in tension with the highest incidence of abortion and one of the lowest fertility rates in Europe. In this anthropological study of reproductive politics and ethics in Athens, Heather Paxson tracks the effects of increasing consumerism and imported biomedical family planning methods, showing how women's "nature" is transforming to meet the crosscutting claims of the contemporary world. Locating profound ambivalence in people's ethical evaluations of gender and fertility control, Paxson offers a far-reaching analysis of conflicting ideas about what it takes to be a good mother, a good woman, and good Greek citizen, where assertions of cultural tradition unfold against European Union integration, economic struggle, and national demographic anxiety over a falling birth rate.

Reviews of Making Modern Mothers:
South European Society & Politics by David Sutton, author of Remembrance of Repasts

Population and Development Review by Susan Greenhalgh

The Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe by Milena Marchesi

The Athens News, Greece's English-language daily newspaper