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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/447

Title: The demographic category as leaky gender boundary: implications for women's reproductive health
Authors: McDaniel, Susan
Keywords: Demography and gender, demography and women, Global health
Issue Date: 2003
Publisher: Pristine Publications
Citation: Women's Health and Urban Life: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal 2(1):4-21.
Abstract: The project of demography entails both knowledge production and practice. In knowledge production, the focus has been on the statistical study of populations and population change through the processes of fertility, mortality, family formation/dissolution, population aging, migration, and social mobility. Gender and the bodily are clearly integral to the understanding of population change and processes, but deepening feminist conceptualizations of gender have yet to infuse the production of demographic knowledge. As practice, demography informs population policy and the framing of reproductive health issues. The demographic category, variously defined, is situated in, and socially constructed by, the macro-level stance of demography, consistent with development and international agendas, rather than by either women’s agency or the complex sets of power relations and socio-cultural systems that create, or are a consequence of, population structures and changes. Perplexing paradoxes emerge for women’s reproductive health, three of which are examined here: 1) a knowledge production project, the focus of which is women’s bodies in reproduction, adopting categories that skid by women as agents and socio-political actors; 2) a demographic practice that is political in origin (in disseminating ways of life from a culturally and economically dominant part of the world), not incorporating feminist knowledge of power to enhance understanding of reproduction and reproductive health; and 3) in the intersection of knowledge production and practice, not seeing both as active forces in shaping women as reproductive health agents and women as agents shaping demographic change. This paper offers a foundational critique of the demographic category as eclipsing of women’s agency, and proposes that constructive leaks have sprung in the gender boundaries demography has created, leaks that offer openings for enhanced understanding of women’s reproductive health.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/447
Appears in Collections:Social Sciences

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