Faculty Convivium






Made, not Born: Perspectives on Fetuses and Personhood from Bioarchaeology and Cultural Anthropology

Fetuses are important political, sociocultural, and biological entities in modern society. They are the source and focus of much debate surrounding a number of important questions, including whether fetuses are persons or even considered human at all. The implications of these questions are far-reaching not only within modern contexts, but also across populations and throughout human history. In this talk, the co-presenters will argue for methodological and theoretical frameworks that approach the human fetus as always biological and cultural and social. The co-presenters will discuss their research in bioarchaeology and cultural anthropology and how that informs our current understanding of the social status of fetuses today. Bioarchaeological research on fetal remains drawn from post-medieval Poland and from prehistoric southeastern United States sheds light on the health and well-being of the overall populations as well as how they were viewed, valued, and understood. Ethnographic research on the expectations and experiences of pregnancy in the contemporary United States enables anthropologists to document and detail the cultural ideas and social practices surrounding fetuses, which are material and metaphorical and are ascribed with private, public, moral, and political significance. In sum, the co-presenters will demonstrate that persons are made, not born. The personhood of fetuses is both negotiated and ascribed and that the identity of these young individuals varies across populations and throughout time, reflecting their liminal role in human society.


The Faculty Convivium is a luncheon series presented by SUNY Oneonta faculty. Summaries of faculty research, accessible to the non-specialist, are presented in a collegial atmosphere.

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Seating is limited.

To reserve a seat please call x2517

at least several days before the talk.

Vegetarian meals are available.





Thursday, 6 December 2018

12:00-1:00 p.m.

Le Cafe
Morris Conference Center