Blessings of Unintended Pregnancy

Photo credit: ‘-11’ by J.K. Califf on Flickr
Photo credit: ‘-11’ by J.K. Califf on Flickr

When I was a graduate student at Emory University, I had the opportunity to work on the Religion and Reproductive Health Project, a research project that ended up profoundly shaping the course of my work.  Not only did I learn about – and engage – ethnographic methods of research (which I later employed in my dissertation research), but I also was able to participate in a truly interdisciplinary project that brought together scholars from religion and public health.  (The RRH Project also led me to the subject of my dissertation project, which was on religion and healing in the context of violence.  For more on that journey, see this article.)

I’m excited to announce that after many years of collaboration, our team has published a paper out of that ethnographic work, in Medicine Anthropology Theory. The paper examines vernacular conceptions of “blessing,” used by mothers living in a homeless shelter to describe their unintended pregnancies.  The goal of the paper is to challenge rational choice models of choice and agency in public health research around reproductive health, instead arguing for a turn towards indigenous (in this case, religious) understandings of pregnancy and intendedness.

I’m excited to hear what you think!