Reproduction and Its Discontents in Mexico: Childbirth and Contraception from 1750 to 1905
In this history of childbirth and contraception in Mexico, Nora E. Jaffarychronicles colonial and nineteenth-century beliefs and practices surroundingconception, pregnancy and its prevention, and birth. Tracking Mexico'stransition from colony to nation, Jaffary demonstrates the central role ofreproduction in ideas about female sexuality and virtue, the development ofmodern Mexico, and the growth of modern medicine in the Latin Americancontext.The story encompasses networks of people in all parts of society, fromstate and medical authorities to mothers and midwives, husbands and lovers,employers and neighbours. Jaffary focuses on key topics including virginity,conception, contraception and abortion, infanticide, monstrous births, andobstetrical medicine. Her approach yields surprising insights into the emergenceof modernity in Mexico. Over the course of the nineteenth century,for example, expectations of idealised womanhood and female sexual virtuegained rather than lost importance. In addition, rather than being obliteratedby European medical practice, features of pre-Columbian obstetricalknowledge, especially of abortifacients, circulated among the Mexican publicthroughout the period under study. Jaffary details how, across time, localisedcontexts shaped the changing history of reproduction, contraception, andmaternity.