Accepted Paper:

Shifting reproductive governance and family planning practice in Northern Ghana  

Author:

Lauren Wallace (McMaster University)

Paper short abstract:

Using the lens of reproductive governance, this paper explores shifting discourses of normative family planning in northern Ghana, and their link with moral responsibility and new idealized forms of care and intimate relationships.

Paper long abstract:

This article explores shifting discourses of normative family planning in northern Ghana. I draw on 8 months of ethnographic research undertaken between 2013 and 2014 with 25 families and six health workers in Kassena Nankana West district of the Upper East Region of Ghana, where fertility has recently declined. Considering the technology of family planning as a mode of reproductive governance, this paper suggests that family planning rhetoric, entangled with changing political-economic logics, creates new idealized forms of parenthood and families. I argue that the technology of family planning shifts moral responsibilities of care for children, producing new types of intimate relationships and families while obviating others. I show that young men and women strategically deploy "reproductive rights and wrongs" discursively to present themselves as good parents and citizens in the context of shifting economic obligations and family relationships. These discourses are intergenerationally-patterned and gendered; they work through the docile bodies of health workers and citizens to position smaller, well-cared for families as the only possible outcome of moral action. I argue that the new logics of family planning, which embody neo-Malthusian sentiments, enhance existing inequality by distributing moral responsibility for development away from the state.

Panel MB-MT04
Flexible reproduction: on the moving articulations of reproduction, technology and culture