1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences




Pregnant Pauses: Communication and the Composition of Networks of Care in Southwestern Uganda

This dissertation explores the role of communication in shaping pregnant women’s care-seeking trajectories in urbanizing, southwestern Uganda. Looking at the way pregnant women move from herbal treatments, to biomedical antenatal checkups, to ritual specialists – through participatory video, photo, and voice recordings – I analyze practices and narratives of maternal and child wellness. My research shows that maternal and child health-seeking is a social activity that is carried out as much through valued forms of talk and interaction, that are understood to be therapeutically efficacious and beneficial, as through therapeutic interventions per se. Specifically, I suggest that in Uganda, maternal and child health is fundamentally a project of composing networks of care. 

Whereas previous discussions have treated therapy managing groups as given, preexisting entities, I theorize the composition of networks as an emergent, interactional process. Far from falling back on a set of preconfigured relationships, pregnant mothers in urbanizing Uganda actively pursued some social bonds and closed themselves off from others. In doing so, I argue that they were working to cultivate a network of connections which would support various aspects of their family’s life. To this end, they sought to effectively perform, and evaluate others’ performances of, “genuine” family values. Networks of care unfolded in turn as social actors read and responded to one another. Thus, I theorize their pursuit of good health through good connections as a set of sociohistorially-distinctive modes of speaking, listening, and coming together with others.

Lise of Chair and Committee Members: Ira Bashkow (Co-chair), China Scherz (Co-chair), Eve Danzgier, Ellen Contini-Morava, Christopher C. Moore (External reader)


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Expected 2020 PhD, Anthropology, University of Virginia, Dissertation: Pregnant Pauses: Communication and the Composition of Networks of Care in Southwestern Uganda
May 2015 MA, Sociocultural Anthropology, University of Virginia
May 2013 BA, Anthropology, Political Science, Lafayette College
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