Item description for Mediating Means and Fate: A Socio-Political Analysis of Fertility and Demographic Change in Bamako, Mali (African Social Studies Series) by Saskia Brand...
Why do birth rates fail to drop in Sub-Saharan Africa? This question has preoccupied demographers and population planners for decades. The expectation of fertility decline is based on the demographic transition model which still dominates demographic thinking, and which assumes a universal development towards low mortality and fertility levels following modernisation. This book argues that population dynamics can only be understood when viewed in their particular context. It provides both a critique of demographic methods and theorizing, and a detailed analysis of fertility issues in the rapidly changing urban environment of Bamako, capital city of Mali. A new light is shed on the population debate through the conceptualization of the meso-level, illuminating a part of the social world which usually remains obscure.
Citations And Professional Reviews Mediating Means and Fate: A Socio-Political Analysis of Fertility and Demographic Change in Bamako, Mali (African Social Studies Series) by Saskia Brand has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Reference and Research Bk News - 11/01/2001 page 72
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Studio: Brill Academic Publishers
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.54" Width: 6.4" Height: 0.94" Weight: 1.42 lbs.
Release Date Nov 10, 2000
Publisher Brill Academic Publishers
ISBN 9004120335 ISBN13 9789004120334
Availability 0 units.
More About Saskia Brand
Saskia Brand, Ph.D. (2000) in Cultural Anthropology, Leiden University, specializes in gender studies and population issues. Recent publications include 'Civil Law vs the Mande Conception of Gendered Personhood' (In: Risseeuw & Ganesh (eds.), Negotiation and Social Space, Sage, 1998).
Reviews - What do customers think about Mediating Means and Fate: A Socio-Political Analysis of Fertility and Demographic Change in Bamako, Mali (African Social Studies Series)?
A penetrating look at population processes Jul 9, 2003
Ms. Brand's book is remarkable in many ways, but here I will focus on just three. First, "Mediating Means and Fate" is one of a very few English-language ethnographies about Mali, giving readers who may not be conversant in French valuable insight into this former French colony. The author's focus community, modern-day Bamako, is too often overlooked by anthropologists searching for more "exotic" research subjects among the Dogon, the Touareg, and other peoples of the Malian hinterlands. And yet Bamako is home to a significant and rapidly growing population, whose family practices are experiencing unprecedented changes. Ms. Brand's illumination of this city and its populace is therefore most welcome.
Secondly, the book relies on favored anthropological tools, life histories and case studies of particular informants, but never loses sight of important macro-processes within which these informants' stories figure. Ms. Brand manages to strike this balance through judicious use of data from Demographic and Health Surveys conducted in Mali during the early and mid-1990s. Her evocative portraits of single mothers, strained marriages and households in transition are emblematic of a number of major transformations taking place in Malian communities (especially urban ones) today. While these case studies are evocative and in many cases even heart-breaking, one can easily see that they concern far more than individual lives.
Thirdly, "Mediating Means and Fate" skillfully integrates cutting-edge social theory (drawing in particular from Bourdieu) with hard-headed and policy-relevant analyses of the facts on the ground. Ms. Brand does not shy away from predicting coming demographic trends or recommending steps to be taken to meet them. Anthropology nowadays doesn't often lend itself to the needs of decision-makers--its practitioners are too busy subverting various paradigms to put out anything that most normal people would consider remotely useful. This work is a clear exception.
For all these reasons, I would recommend the book to: anyone interested in issues of family and society in West Africa generally and Mali specifically; anyone concerned with population questions and the future of African fertility; and finally (the most select group) those scholars working at the juncture of anthropology and demography who may be looking for a fresh take on the intersection of population, culture, structure, and agency. You need look no further.