Breastfeeding as a cultural practice between private decisions and public discourse

Ignjatović, Suzana and Buturović, Željka (2016) Breastfeeding as a cultural practice between private decisions and public discourse. In: World anthropologies and privatization of knowledge: engaging anthropology in public. IUAES Inter Congress, Dubrovnik, 4-9 May, 2016: abstract book. IUAES, Dubrovnik, Croatia.

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In recent decades, breastfeeding has been increasingly promoted by governments, public health organizations, civil sector, and the media. Public discourse on breastfeeding has likewise changed. Breastfeeding has become more visible in the public space – on the streets, in the workplace, throughout social networks, and especially in the media which reports stories about prolonged breastfeeding and publishes photos/selfies of celebrity mothers breastfeeding their children. These changes may be the manifestation of a new breastfeeding culture. In social theory, breastfeeding has raised many dilemmas, among them the old nature-culture divide. In feminism, there is a debate whether breastfeeding is a symbol of women’s empowerment or alienation. Also, breastfeeding is inseparable from a dominant motherhood model in a given context. Joan Wolf’s concepts of “total motherhood” and “risk culture” are relevant for understanding the current trends in breastfeeding practice: breastfeeding is a substance that is supposed to reduce child’s health risks thus alleviating parental anxiety about the child’s future (Wolf 2011). Breastfeeding norms and practices change in a culture over time and across societies. A comparative perspective is useful in understanding changing trends in breastfeeding normativity, especially potential differences between pre-modern and modern societies; between highly developed and under-developed societies. The medical model of breastfeeding research can be improved by introducing a new approach that focuses on breastfeeding public/private experience, including sexuality, satisfaction, emotional burden. The panel encourages diverse approaches: ethnographies, case studies, large-scale surveys and theoretical contributions.

Item Type: Book Section
Institutional centre: Centre for sociological research and anthropological research
Depositing User: Srđan Jurlina
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2023 10:00
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2023 10:00

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