Parenthood: Beyond maternity and paternity

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    Parenthood is a transforming and enduring experience worldwide, yet it occurs in culturally distinctive ways. Anthropologists’ analyses of this aspect of social life need to attend to these distinctions by applying concepts that are flexible but offer meaningful insights. This article investigates the complexities of modern parent–child relations, making two propositions that expand the concept of parenthood. I begin by arguing that the term parenthood should be more widely utilized by anthropologists when investigating kinship, due to its specificity and ability to address and contest issues of care and inequality. The notion of parenthood can reflect a diverse array of practices far beyond those of childbearing heterosexual couples—fostering, adoption, surrogacy, queer parenthoods, and parenthood via assisted reproductive technologies (ART)—while acknowledging the continued salience of normative parenting relations. I propose that feminist anthropologists could use the term parenthood to challenge the gendered assumptions surrounding motherhood and fatherhood (which remain highly influential regardless of parents’ relationship forms and sexualities) and to recognize and facilitate less rigid, less binary parenting performances. Drawing on anthropological, sociological, and feminist works on kinship, reproduction, and gender, I thus advocate for the conceptual utility of the term parenthood and point to future directions for such research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)299-306
    JournalFeminist Anthropology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Sep 2022


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