Cultural Dynamics of Women's Lives

Edited by:
Ana Cecília S. Bastos
Kristiina Uriko, Tallinn University
Jaan Valsiner, Niels Bohr Professor of Cultural Psychology, Aalborg University

A volume in the series: Advances in Cultural Psychology: Constructing Human Development. Editor(s): Jaan Valsiner, Niels Bohr Professor of Cultural Psychology, Aalborg University.

Published 2012

This book explores the diverse landscapes wherein women struggle for their personal and social identities and lives, between biology and culture, destiny and choice, shared and individual worlds, tradition and modernity. Their “peripheral lives” have “central meaning” (Chaudhary, this volume) in any society – and as such are approached as a primary subject in this book, as the chapters traverse ten different countries on three continents: North America (United States); Latin America (Brazil, Chile, Colombia); Asia (India); and Europe (United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal, Finland, Estonia).

Throughout these different places, women's lives are an interesting stage for observing the interaction between biology and culture (e.g. sex vs. gender; pregnancy and childbirth vs. transition to motherhood). The focus on the cultural variability of human experience opens the door for the search of commonalities so needed in psychological theorizing. Here, this search is directed by how cultural models of womanhood (and motherhood) constrain personal experiences, especially through developmental transitions.

This book is, ultimately, an opportunity to approach women’s lives from the perspective of the women themselves, particularly making audible and explicit their voices and the axis of logic that structures their world. Undoubtedly, it is a valuable opportunity for women and men interested in understanding and constructing human experience inside better worlds.

Introduction. PART I: CULTURAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER: SYMBOLIC AMBIVALENCES. Editorial Introduction. Peripheral Lives, Central Meaning: Women and Their Place in Indian Society, Nandita Chaudhary. Traditional and Contemporary Mothering in Coexistent Worlds: Theories, Practices, and Cultural Realities, María Cristina Tenorio. People in Transitions in Worlds in Transition: Ambivalence in the Transition to Womanhood During World War II, Tania Zittoun, Emma-Louise Aveling, Alex Gillespie, and Flora Cornish. “Moving Portraits” of Femininity: A Study of the Bilheiras of Piauí, Elaine Pedreira Rabinovich. Beyond “Women,” “Mothers,” and “Me”: Imagination, Poetics, and Why Surpassing Social Norms Means Surpassing the Self, Emily Abbey. Striving Toward a Normative Identity: The Social Production of the Meaning of Assisted Reproductive Technology in Ireland, Orla McDonnel. PART II: WEAVERS OF MEANINGS THROUGH WOMEN'S CULTURAL REALITIES. Indigenous Women: Gender, Identity, and Culture in Transition, Thirza Reis Sifuentes and Maria Cláudia Santos Lopes de Oliveira. Woman’s Self Construction and Sociocultural Mediation, Zilma de Moraes, Ramos de Oliveira, and Ana Paula Soares da Silva. Mothers Dealing With Child Abuse: Dynamics of Psychological Processing, Maria Elisa Molina. Play and Gender Issues in Rural and Urban Brazilian Contexts, Ilka Dias Bichara, Eulina da Rocha Lordelo, Ana Karina Santos, and Fernando Augusto Ramos Pontes. Experiences of a Black Female Professor Against Racism, Evenice Santos Chaves. Coping With Sexual Violence: Strategies Used by Mothers of Abused Girls, Silvia Viodres and Marilena Ristum. PART III: LIVING THROUGH LIFE TRANSITIONS: CONTEXTS OF MOTHERHOOD REALITIES OF TRANSITIONS. Becoming Mother, Pirkko Niemelä. Adaptation at the Postnatal Period and the Valuation of Parental Roles, Kristiina Uriko. Woman the Caregiver: Ways of Sharing Childcare in Two Contemporary Brazilian Contexts, Vanessa R. S. Cavalcanti, Ana M. A. Carvalho, and Bárbara M. S. Caldeira. Meaningful Lives of Women over Three Generations: A Glimpse into Afro-Brazilian Experience, Maria Cecília Leite de Moraes and Elaine Pedreira Rabinovich. Childbirth and Pain in the Context of Brazilian Women in Different Socioeconomic Conditions, Viviane Mutti and Lílian Perdigão Reis. PART IV: BECOMING THE MOTHER: DIALOGS WITHIN SELVES. Negotiating Motherhood: Practices and Discourses, Filipa Duarte and Miguel Gonçalves. Meanings Through the Transition to Motherhood: Women Before and After Childbirth, Ana Patrícia Vargas Borges and Ana Cecília de Sousa Bastos. Teenage Motherhood as a Family Experience: Ambivalences Between Individual and Shared Worlds, Roberta Ferreira Takei, Ana Clara Bastos, and Bruna Improta Mendonça. Ambivalences in the Transition to Motherhood: The Arrival of an Intersexual Baby, Ana Karina Canguçú-Campinho, Ana Cecília de Sousa Bastos, and Isabel Maria Sampaio Oliveira Lima. Being a Mother and an Undergraduate Student: The Dialogical Process of Becoming a Mother in the Academic Context, Ana Maria de Oliveira Urpia and Sônia Maria da Rocha Sampaio. Having Recurrent Gestational Losses: Persistence in Living, Vívian Volkmer Pontes. PART V: THE DEEP HUMANITY OF KNOWLEDGE: REALITIES OF RESEARCH ENCOUNTERS. Reflexivity and Subjectivity: Making Race, Class, and Gender Visible, Mariana Barcinski. Memories, Field Notes, Poetics: The Underside of a Research, Ana Cecília de Sousa Bastos. Does the World Move After Women Talk? Meaning-Making Processes Around Pregnancy and Childbirth from a Mother–Daughter Conversational Setting, Ana Cecília Bastos, Sara Santos Chaves, and Luiz Fernando Calaça de Sá Jr. Partnerships in Research, Roger Bibace. Appendix: Photo Essay: Images from Novos Alagados: The beauty of the woman, Marco Illuminati (Pictures). José Eduardo Ferreira Santos and Ana Cecília de Sousa Bastos (Text). About the Authors.