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From God to Technology: Multiple Ontologies of Reproductive Time

2023

Abstract

Recent decades have seen substantive changes in reproductive patterns involving decisions whether, when and how to have children. Although time is at the core of transformations of contemporary childbearing, there are few systematic theoretical reflections and empirical studies on reproductive time. Drawing on sociological, feminist and decolonial approaches to time and 40 life story interviews on the transition to motherhood, this article explores the multiple ontologies of time shaping women’s reproductive experiences. The findings show that women understand and live reproductive time as determined by God, nature, the clock and technology and often manage convergent and conflicting ontologies of time in negotiating childbearing. These times outline differential spaces for agency and accountability, thus enabling and constraining women’s childbearing experiences in particular ways. These findings advance knowledge on the temporal dimension of childbearing, challenge normative assumptions underlying reproductive time and contribute to better understand contemporary changes in the nature of reproduction.
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