- The unfortunate sufferer: discursive dynamics around pregnancy loss in Cameroon
- Medical Anthropology
- Volume | Issue number
- 33 | 5
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Pregnancy losses are ambiguous affairs in East Cameroon. Childbearing is not always people's primary aim within their fragile sexual and marital relationships, and it is often unclear to outsiders whether a pregnancy interruption is intended or unintended. Drawing on 15 months of fieldwork, I explore the discursive strategies Gbigbil women deploy while navigating such ambiguities. Suffering is central to their defensive discourses. Depending on the stakes in their relationships, women foreground the notion of suffering either to portray themselves as moral and innocent - and maintain social status or raise support - or to allude to or acknowledge their intention to terminate a pregnancy. This dynamic deployment of a suffering discourse reveals the interconnections of unintended and intended pregnancy losses, and of suffering (associated especially with the former) and agency (often associated with the latter).
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