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Polygamy, disrupted reproduction, and the state: Malian migrants in Paris, France


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  • Sargent, Carolyn
  • Cordell, Dennis
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    For Malian women, migration from West Africa to France has disrupted widely shared understandings of marriage and reproduction. In response to restrictive immigration policies, men and women routinely confront the challenges of polygamy, public disapproval of high fertility, and biomedical messages promoting contraception. Although many Malians continue to be strongly pronatalist, within a family, spouses may experience contradictory pressures and objectives regarding reproduction, particularly in polygamous marriages. Because women are more likely than men to interact with nurses and doctors in the context of maternity and child health care visits, they are systematically confronted by encouragement to contracept. French population policy is contradictory in this regard, as it has been strongly pronatalist throughout the 20th century, yet is equally strongly anti-natalist with regard to immigrant populations. Recent anti-immigrant policies such as the Pasqua law prohibiting polygamy have emerged as influences shaping men's and women's contested reproductive goals. Men tend to oppose contraception, citing Islamic doctrine while women increasingly justify contraceptive use in response to government policies and biomedical encouragement. In contrast, polygamy also may generate pregnancy rivalries as wives strategize to enhance their reproductive careers and thus to retain immigrant status.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 56 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 9 (May)
    Pages: 1961-1972

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:9:p:1961-1972

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    Keywords: Reproduction Contraception Population policy Polygyny France Malian immigrants;


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    Cited by:
    1. Caroline H. Bledsoe & René Houle & Papa Sow, 2007. "High fertility Gambians in low fertility Spain," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 16(12), pages 375-412, May.


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