February 25: Anureet Lotay - Family Matters

Anthropology Colloqium

Family Matters: Pregnancy Loss and the Punjabi-Canadian Diaspora

Anureet Lotay

PhD Candidate, Anthropology Department, UVic
Monday, February 25th, 2019
11:30 am – 12:50 pm
Cornett Building: A229

Even though one in four women suffers pregnancy loss, it remains a silenced and stigmatized experience. Anthropologists studying pregnancy loss—miscarriage, stillbirth, and termination for fetal anomalies—have focused on Euro-American women, and to a lesser degree on cultural communities outside North America. However, the nuanced and dynamic relations between reproductive loss and global sociopolitical forces, especially in the diasporic context, remain largely unexamined. This talk will explore the context and theoretical framework of my doctoral project which aims to build an understanding of the experiences and perceptions of pregnancy loss among diasporic Punjabi-Canadian families.
Diasporic communities make up seven percent of the world’s population, occupying hybrid cultural spaces between the homeland and their new homes. The Punjabi-Canadian diaspora is one of the largest in Canada and the world. It offers a unique opportunity to explore the impact of diasporic lifeways on pregnancy loss as Punjabi-Canadians must negotiate belonging within the Indian community, and within wider Canadian society, in their practices around reproduction, gender, and family. Punjabi families tend to live in multigenerational households, are intensely patriarchal, and strongly pro-natalist. These values contribute to the silence around pregnancy loss. However, negotiating belonging between Indian and Canadian cultures means that newer generations of Punjabis are resisting some of these gendered notions. Focusing on my upcoming field research, I will go over the potential opportunities and challenges in studying how pregnancy loss figures within multigenerational families and diasporic community contexts in light of these changing dynamics.