Theses Doctoral

Reproductive Politics, Religion and State Governance in the Philippines

Natividad, Maria Dulce Ferrer

Reproductive controversies are never only about reproduction and health. They serve as proxies for more fundamental questions about citizenship, the state, national identity, class and gender. In a post-colonial context such as the Philippines, where a particular historical relationship between the Church and the state has developed, policymaking on reproduction, sexuality and health answers to both development goals and religious norms. At the same time, women's everyday frameworks of (reproductive) meanings are also inextricably bound with state policies and popular culture. My ethnographic study examines the relationship between state governance, religion, reproductive politics, and competing understandings of embodied sexual morality. My study argues that at the heart of the complex politics involved in policymaking on reproductive health in the Philippines is the entanglement of national and religious identities. Reproductive policy then operates as a frame through which the politics of the nation, religion and the state get filtered and played out. Taking the Philippines as a case study, I focus on women's `lived religion' and practices; the local, national and international institutions and actors that exert influence on reproductive policy and popular sentiment; and how these shape women's reproductive practices in the context of everyday life. Through the women's narratives, I show how class, gender and religion work in tension with one another. Lastly, the study also investigates how the historical entanglement between religion and the state configures practices of governance, such as policymaking, in postcolonial contexts.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Vance, Carole
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 3, 2012