When lives are dominated by hunger, what becomes of love? When assaulted by daily acts of violence and untimely death, what happens to trust? Set in the lands of Northeast Brazil, this is an account of the everyday experience of scarcity, sickness and death that centres on the lives of the women and children of a hillside "favela". Bringing her readers to the impoverished slopes above the modern plantation town of Bom Jesus de Mata, where she has worked on and off for 25 years, Nancy Scheper-Hughes follows three generations of shantytown women as they struggle to survive through hard work, cunning and triage. It is a story of class relations told at the most basic level of bodies, emotions, desires and needs. Most disturbing - and controversial - is her finding that mother love, as conventionally understood, is something of a bourgeois myth, a luxury for those who can reasonably expect, as these women cannot, that their infants will live.
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Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree. Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course. Log in or Sign up. In America, the death of a child is considered among the most tragic things that could happen to a mother, but not all societies feel that way. In many third world countries, infant death is so common that mothers have come to expect it.
Nancy Scheper-Hughes wrote the article 'Death Without Weeping' in to share her experiences as a researcher in a shantytown in Brazil; in , she expanded on that article with a book by the same name.
Today, we'll focus on the article to learn more about the views regarding a child's death in Bom Jesus da Mata, Brazil. To understand how a mother might learn to accept the death of a child as a natural part of life, it is important to understand the economic conditions of the women living in shantytowns. Most families living in these areas are single mothers without familial support.
They are generally left with one of two options: they can work in the sugar plantations for very low wages or they can do domestic work in the homes of the wealthy. Either way, women are not allowed to bring their babies to work.
Wages are so low that the women can't afford babysitters, either. As a result, babies are left home alone, or with siblings who are ill-equipped to care for them. Add drought, malnutrition, and unsanitary conditions to the mix and the result is an unusually high death rate. As a result, women have learned to withhold love, affection, and care from babies whom they assess to be born 'wanting to die. After the death of a child, there is no funeral service, no tears, and no grief. Women are trained not to grieve at the loss of a child because 'her tears will dampen the wings of her little angel so that she cannot fly up to her heavenly home.
While paperwork is required for most things in Brazil, such as registering a car, there is very little required to bury a child. No one asks for the cause of death and almost anyone can fill out the death certificate since no medical documentation is required.
Once the paperwork is filed, the family is provided with 'a voucher for a free baby coffin. Sometimes, they even provide sleeping pills to keep sick babies from crying. At one time, the Catholic church celebrated the deaths of infants as they were thought to become angels, but in recent years, the church has tried to convince mothers 'that Jesus doesn't want all the dead babies they send him.
While the church views overpopulation as a problem, it maintains strict views in opposition of birth control methods. This means that it can't influence mothers to have fewer children, even though that would make caring for them easier.
Nancy Scheper-Hughes wrote 'Death Without Weeping' to share her research about maternal views towards the death of their children in impoverished conditions in Brazil.
Because many children die very young due to starvation, neglect, and disease, mothers tend to withhold their love, affection, and care from infants until it is determined that the child is healthy enough to survive. The deaths of small children are not monitored by the state. There are no funerals or tears.
The church at one time celebrated the deaths as children becoming angels, but has since discouraged mothers from engaging in the acts of neglect that lead to so many infant deaths, and no longer baptizes or prays over sick children. Church officials recognize that overpopulation is a problem, but have not relaxed their views against birth control. To unlock this lesson you must be a Study. Create your account. Already a member? Log In. Already registered? Log in here for access. Did you know… We have over college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1, colleges and universities.
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Find a degree that fits your goals. Try it risk-free for 30 days. Instructor: Kerry Gray Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. Save Save Save. Want to watch this again later? In this lesson, we will summarize the article 'Death Without Weeping,' in which Nancy Scheper-Hughes discusses her experiences and research regarding the high infant mortality rate in the shantytown Bom Jesus da Mata in Brazil.
Infant Mortality In America, the death of a child is considered among the most tragic things that could happen to a mother, but not all societies feel that way. Economic Conditions To understand how a mother might learn to accept the death of a child as a natural part of life, it is important to understand the economic conditions of the women living in shantytowns.
Withholding Maternal Care As a result, women have learned to withhold love, affection, and care from babies whom they assess to be born 'wanting to die. The Church and Society While paperwork is required for most things in Brazil, such as registering a car, there is very little required to bury a child. Try it risk-free No obligation, cancel anytime.
Want to learn more? Lesson Summary Nancy Scheper-Hughes wrote 'Death Without Weeping' to share her research about maternal views towards the death of their children in impoverished conditions in Brazil. Register to view this lesson Are you a student or a teacher? I am a student I am a teacher.
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Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil
Nancy Scheper-Hughes. Berkley: University of California Press, This is a disturbing, controversial, and deeply moving book, based on the author's experience, in the 's as a Peace Corps worker and in the 's as a social anthropologist, among the poor of the Pernambucan Zona da Mata. In her early role as health worker Scheper-Hughes became the friend of three half-sisters, young girls at the time. She follows their lives over the years: their struggles against poverty, social discrimination, and hunger; the men in their lives, the children they bore and all too often watched fall sick and die, and the courage with which they have endured and survived. The author's focus is on life in Alto do Cruzeiro, the crowded shantytown where urbanized rural workers live precarious lives without decent housing, sanitation, or clean water. Like Oscar Lewis, the author derives generalizations from the course of her informants' lives, and so she describes, often in minute and graphic detail, day-to-day events: childbirth, the illness of a child; the humiliation of a fruitless visit to a clinic where medicine is offhandedly despensed to the poor, the violent death of a teen age son.
Death Without Weeping Summary
This book is very sad, but very good. Its a cultural anthropology first person ethnography. I read it when writing my undergraduate thesis and quite liked it. I would be a good read for people who She is the winner of the J. Stanley Prize of the School of American Research. Nancy Scheper-Hughes.