Much more than malnutrition: motherhood and the state in the Peruvian Andes

Gillespie, Bronwen (2016) Much more than malnutrition: motherhood and the state in the Peruvian Andes. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis draws on women’s lived experience as recipients of state programmes and services aimed at poor mothers to explore contradictions in processes of development and social inclusion. Women’s ambivalent responses to these programmes raise important questions, first of all, about being the targeted object and what ‘for poor mothers’ means to those so categorised, and secondly, about the act of targeting, and how it can serve both as a constraint and as a resource.

State concern with chronic child malnutrition serves as the entrance point to my research, carried out in rural Ayacucho, Peru, from October 2012 to November 2013. This project was motivated by concerns regarding the medicalisation of food scarcity, as malnutrition, and how this approach spread to further interventions by the state to shape parenting in the rural Andes. I examine three programmes: (1.) mothers’ interactions with the local public health centre, which is at the forefront of the state’s effort to reduce chronic child malnutrition, (2.) the Juntos (‘Together’) cash transfer programme, under which families receive small bi-monthly payments conditional on children’s school attendance and health centre check-ups, and (3.) the Cuna Mas (‘Cradle Plus’) programme, which involves home visits to promote mother-child interaction and play.

My research builds on the concepts of ‘governmentality’ and ‘reproductive governance’ by examining how women in their roles as mothers are sought out for the development of the nation, and urged to act along state-recommended lines. By looking at their reactions to being targeted, I explore how they make use of what is on offer and manage the boundaries of their inclusion. I show that considerations of agency are central to debates on citizenship and inclusion, as well as to understanding the implications of medicalisation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Subjects: F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F2201 South America > F3401 Peru
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ1101 Women. Feminism
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2016 14:19
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2016 14:19

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