Alice Larotonda

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Brown U.

Grant number

Gr. 9464

Approve Date

April 25, 2017

Project Title

Larotonda, Alice, Brown U., Providence, RI - To aid research on 'Milkways to Modernity: The Stakes of Breastmilk Donation in Cabo Verde,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Mason

Preliminary abstract: In 2011, Cabo Verde inaugurated the first Human Milk Bank (HMB) in Africa: a hospital service whereby women can pump and donate breastmilk for vulnerable hospitalized infants. Implemented in the context of a South-South development project with Brazil, the HMB had the policy and humanitarian goal of reducing perinatal mortality. By pumping milk, women willingly make a contribution to the common good; indeed, the HMB project relies on women’s unpaid (re)productive labor. Over 12 months of fieldwork, I will use a combination of semi-structured interviewing, participant-observation, and textual analysis of relevant documents and texts, to investigate the complex symbolisms of breastmilk and the effects of breastmilk donation on how women understand their contribution to the common good, in conversation with national and transnational ideologies and projects. Drawing from anthropological scholarship on development and modernity, the body and technology, and women’s reproduction and breastfeeding, I will study the political stakes, meanings, and effects of breastmilk donation taking into account any tensions between national and transnational agendas and women’s aspirations, as played out through their voluntary bodily work in Cabo Verde’s strive for modernity. This research ultimately aims to address questions of gender, women’s reproduction, and the state, as they are mediated by transnational clinical models, institutions, and technologies.