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Representation and Perception: Why Reproduction Matters in Ladakh
Ladakh Studies (2008)
  • Jennifer Aengst, Portland State University
Although I’ve been doing research in Ladakh since 2006, I’m still regularly asked why I chose to study reproductive health and why I chose Ladakh as the place for my research. On my first visit to Ladakh, I was interested in comparing how allopathic and amchi medicine addressed different aspects of reproductive health. However, after spending more time in Ladakh, I realized that the debates surrounding fertility were much more compelling to me. Fertility control—whether contraceptive use or more broadly in the spacing and planning of one’s family—brings up tricky positions among most Ladakhis. Most of those whose work has to do with reproductive health in Ladakh—gynecologists, ANMs, LHVs—feel that women should have access to a variety of methods of  contraception, as well as access to better and more extensive health education. Yet, they work in a context where there is not only overt opposition from some in the community against family planning but also a widespread worry about Ladakh’s population. 

Contraception and family planning are linked to bigger debates in Ladakh-not only about population (population growth and population composition) but also about Ladakhi identity and marginalization (within the J&K state and the Indian nation). Furthermore, contraception is also considered to be dangerous to the morality of others, such as unmarried adolescents. Though it is sensitive issue (in both a religious and  political sense), family planning in Ladakh needs to be examined because it is an  opportunity to re-think both 'the political' and Ladakh's relationship to the state.
Publication Date
Citation Information
Jennifer Aengst. "Representation and Perception: Why Reproduction Matters in Ladakh" Ladakh Studies Iss. 23 (2008) p. 4 - 11
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