Negotiating intimate worlds: an integral ethnography of reproductive freedom and social justice
Iris Lopez (City College)
Paper short abstract:
This paper reflects the challenges I faced working within traditional anthropological paradigms to understand the high rate of sterilization among Puerto Rican women. It examines the integral theoretical and methodological framework I developed to contest these anthropological perspectives.
Paper long abstract:
There is an intimate connection between feminist ethnography, methods, theorizing, and activism. This paper reflects the personal and professional questions and challenges I faced in my 25 year trajectory studying the individual, cultural, social,and historical forces that have led Puerto Rican women to have one of the highest rates of sterilization in the world. As a working-class woman of color, feminist ethnographer, and anthropologist, I explore my positionality doing research in my own backyard, in the Brooklyn neighborhood where I was born and raised. This entailed overcoming the dualistic framework of women as agents versus victims by developing an integral model of reproductive freedom and social justice that transcends and includes the individual, cultural, social, and historical forces that shape and constrain Puerto Rican women's fertility options. It also required thinking about how to do fieldwork in a highly complex urban society such as New York City in ways that would benefit the community with whom I was working, which in turn influenced how I collected the data, shared it with the community, and how I subsequently used the data.
Feminist activist ethnography and social change