Although most societies highly value and nurture children, children in many societies may nonetheless be unwanted under certain conditions. Thus, decisions about parental investment, and social control of reproduction and pre- and perinatal survival are not solely a modern phenomenon. Many societies act to limit the incidence of pregnancy, birth and infant survival, and have done so for centuries. These societies have traditional means for controlling birth and for aborting unwanted pregnancies. Some even go to the extreme of killing newborn infants, which may be considered a type of extended abortion. This paper explores the range of conditions among the world's societies associated with such controls, and surveys some of the methods used to maintain control. Such methods include rituals, physical stress, herbal medicines, prescriptive taboos, and infanticide. Theoretical concerns are surveyed.
Adams, K. J. (1972). The Barama Caribs of Guyana restudied: Forty years of cultural adaptation and population change. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Case Western Reserve University.
Aginsky, B. W. (1939). Population control in the Shanel (Porno) tribe. American Sociological Review 4(2), 209-216.
Alexander, R. D. (1974). The evolution of social behavior. Annual review of ecology and systematics, 5, 325-383.
Alexander, R. D. (1979). Darwinism and human affairs. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Ayres, B. C. (1954). A cross-cultural study of factors relating to pregnancy taboos. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University.
Balikci, A. (1964). Development of basic socio-economic units in two Eskimo communities. National Museum of Canada, Bulletin No. 202.
Balikci, A. (1967). Female infanticide on the Arctic coast. Man (N.S.) 2, 615-625.
Benedict, B. (1970). Population regulation in primitive societies. In A. Allison (Ed.). Population control. Middlesex, England: Penguin.
Bernstein, G. L. and Kidd, Y. A. (1982). Childbearing in Japan. In M. A. Kay (Ed.). Anthropology of human birth. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis.
Bleek, W. (1990). Did the Akan Resort to Abortion in Pre-Colonial Ghana? Some Conjectures. Africa 60(1), 121-131.
Brittain, A. W. (1992). Birth spacing and child mortality in a Caribbean population. Human biology 64(2), 223-241.
Bugos, P. E. and McCarthy, L. M. (1984). Ayoreo infanticide: A case study. In G. Hausfater and S. B. Hrdy (Eds.). Infanticide: Comparative and evolutionary perspectives. New York: Aldine.
Cassidy, J. D. (1980). Benign neglect and toddler malnutrition. In L. Greene and F. Johnson (Eds.). Social and biological predictors of nutritional status, physical growth, and neurological development. New York: Academic.
Chagnon, N. (1968). Yanomamo social organization and warfare. In M. Fried, M. Harris and R. Murphy (Eds.). War: The anthropology of armed conflict and aggression. New York: Natural History Press.
Chagnon, N. A., Flinn, M. Y. and Melancon, T. F. (1979). Sex-ratio variation among the Yanomamo Indians. In N. A. Chagnon and W. Irons (Eds.). Evolutionary biology and human social behavior: An anthropological perspective. North Scituate, MA: Duxbury Press.
Cowlishaw, G. (1978). Infanticide in aboriginal Australia. Oceania 68(4), 262-283.
Daly, M. and Wilson, M. (1984). A sociobiological analysis of human infanticide. In G. Hausfater and S. B. Hrdy (Eds.). Infanticide: Comparative and evolutionary Perspectives. New York: Aldine.
David, H. P. (Ed.). (1974). Abortion research: International experience. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.
David, H. P., et al. (Eds.). (1988). Born unwanted: Developmental effects of denied abortion. New York: Springer Publishing Co.
Devereux, G. (1967). A typological study of abortion in 350 primitive, ancient, and pre-industrial societies. In H. Rosen (Ed.). Abortion in America. Boston: Beacon Press.
Devereux, G. (1976). A study of abortion in Primitive societies (revised edition). New York: The Sulian Press, Inc.
Dickeman, M. (1975). Demographic consequences of infanticide in man. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 6, 107-137.
Dickeman, M. (1979). Female infanticide, reproductive strategies, and social stratification: A preliminary model. In N. A. Chagnon and W. Irons (Eds.). Evolutionary biology and human social behavior: An anthropological perspective. North Scituate, MA: Duxbury Press.
Divale, W. T. (1971a). Ibo population control: The ecology of warfare and social organization. California Anthropologist, 1, 10-24.
Divale, W. T. (1971b). An explanation for primitive warfare: Population control and the significance of primitive sex ratios. New Scholar, 2, 173-192.
Divale, W. T. (1971c). The function of warfare and infanticide in the population ecology of primitive culture. Masters thesis. Department of Anthropology, California State College, Los Angeles.
Divale, W. T. and Harris, M. (1976). Population, warfare, and the male supremacist complex. American Anthropologist, 78, 521-538.
Donaldson, P. J., Nichols, D. J. and E. H. Choe (1982) Abortion and contraception in the Korean fertility transition. Population Studies, 36(2), 227-235.
Douglas, M. (1966). Population control in primitive groups. British Journal of Sociology, 17, 263-273.
Dunbar, R. I. M. (1988). Primate social systems. London: Groom Helm.
Erikson, R. C. (1993). Abortion trauma: Application of a conflict model. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 8(1), 000-000.
Findeisen, B. R. (1993). Pre- and perinatal losses. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 8(1), 000-000.
Freeman, M. M. R., (1971). A social and ecologic analysis of systematic female infanticide among the Netsilik Eskimo. American anthropologist, 73, 1011-1018.
Celles, R. J. and Lancaster, J. B. (1987). Child abuse and neglect: Biosocial dimensions. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
Gilandi, A. (1990). Some observations on infanticide in medieval Muslim society. International Journal of Middle East Studies 22(2), 185-200.
Ginsburg, F. and Rapp, R. (1991). The Politics of Reproduction. Annual Review of Anthropology, 20, 311-343.
Goodale, J. (1971). Tiwi wives. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.
Graburn, N. (1984). Severe child abuse among the Canadian Inuit. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Denver.
Granzberg, G. (1973). Twin infanticide: A cross-cultural test of a materialistic explanation. Ethos, 1(4), 406-412.
Handwerker, W. P. (1983). The first demographic transition: An analysis of subsistence choices and reproductive consequences. American Anthropologist, 85, 5-27.
Handwerker, W. P. (1986) "Natural fertility" as a balance of choice and behavioral effect: Policy implications for Liberian farm households. In W. P. Handwerker (Ed.). Culture and reproduction: An anthropological critique of demographic transition theory. Boulder: Westview.
Harris, M. (1972). Cannibals and Kings: The Origins of Cultures. New York: Random House.
Hart, D. V., Rajadhon, P. A. and Coughlin, R. J. (1965). Southeast Asian birth customs: Three studies in human reproduction. New Haven: H.R.A.F. Press.
Hausfater, G. and Hrdy, S. B. (Eds.). (1984). Infanticide: Comparative and evolutionary perspectives. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine.
Hern, W. M. (1976). Knowledge and use of herbal contraceptives in a Peruvian Amazon village. Human Organization, 35(1), 9-19.
Hrdy, S. B. (1987). Sex-biased parental investment among primates and other mammals: A critical evaluation of the Trivers-Willard hypothesis. In R. J. Gelles and J. B. Lancaster (Eds.). Child abuse and neglect: Biosocial dimensions. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
Hrdy, S. B. and Hausfater, G. (1984). Comparative and evolutionary perspectives on infanticide: Introduction and overview. In G. Hausfater and S. B. Hrdy (Eds.). Infanticide: Comparative and evolutionary perspectives. New York: Aldine.
James, W. (1988). The listening ebony: Moral knowledge, religion, and power among the Uduk of Sudan. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Jeffery, R., Jeffery, P. and Lyon, A. (1984). Female infanticide and amniocentesis. Social Science and Medicine, 19(11), 1207-1212.
Jeffreys, M. D. (1963). The cult of twins among some African tribes. South African Journal of Science, 58, 97-107.
Jenkins, R. L. (1967). The significance of material rejection of pregnancy for the future development of the child. In H. R. Rosen (Ed.). Abortion in America. Boston: Beacon.
Johansson, S. R. (1984). Deferred infanticide: Excess female mortality during childhood. In G. Hausfater and S. B. Hrdy (Eds.). Infanticide: Comparative and evolutionary perspectives. New York: Aldine.
Kesselman, I. (1990). Grief and loss: Issues for abortion. Omega, 21(3), 241-247.
Korbin, J. (1977). Anthropological contributions to the study of child abuse. Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal, 1(1), 7-24.
Korbin, J. E. (1987). Child maltreatment in cross-cultural perspective: Vulnerable children and circumstances. In R. J. Gelles and J. B. Lancaster (Eds.). Child Abuse and Neglect: Biosocial Dimensions. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
Lancaster, J. B., Altmann, J., Rossi, A. S. and Sherrod, L. R. (Eds.). (1987). Parenting across the life span: Biosocial dimensions. New York: Aldine.
Landwirth, J. (1987). Fetal abuse and neglect: An emerging controversy. Pediatrics, 79(4), 508.
Laughlin, C. D. (1989a). Pre- and perinatal anthropology: A selective review. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 3(4), 261-296.
Laughlin, C. D. (1989b). The roots of enculturation. Anthropologica, 31, 135-178.
Laughlin, C. D. (1990). Womb = woman = world: Gender and transcendence in Tibetan tantric Buddhism. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 5(2), 147-165.
Laughlin, C. D. (1991). Pre- and perinatal brain development and enculturation: A biogenetic structural approach. Human Nature, 2(3). 171-213.
Laughlin, C. D. (1992). Pre- and perinatal anthropology II: The puerperium in crosscultural perspective. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 7(1), 23-60.
Miller, B. D. (1981). The endangered sex: Neglect of female children in rural north India. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Miller, B. D. (1987). Female infanticide and child neglect in rural North India. In N.
Scheper-Hughes (Ed.). Child survival: Anthropological perspectives on the treatment and maltreatment of children. Dordrecht, Germany: D. Reidel.
Minturn, L. (1984). Changes in the treatment of Rajput girls in Khalapur: 1955-1975. Medical Anthropology, 8(2), 127-132.
Minturn, L. and Stashak, J. (1982). Infanticide as a terminal abortion procedure. Behavior Science Research, 17(1, 2), 70-90.
Mull, D. S. and Mull, J. D. (1987). Infanticide among the Tarahumara of the Mexican Sierra Madre. In N. Scheper-Hughes (Ed.). Child survival: Anthropological perspectives on the treatment and maltreatment of children. Dordrecht: D. Reidel.
Nations, M. K. and Rebhun, L. -A. (1988). Angels with wet wings won't fly: Maternal sentiment in Brazil and the image of neglect. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 12, 141-200.
Newman, L. F. (1972). The Anthropology of Birth. Sociological Symposium, 8, 51-63.
Ney, P. G., Fung, T. and Wickett, A. R. (1993). Relationship between induced abortion and child abuse and neglect: Four studies. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 8(1), 000-000.
Nurge, E. (1975). Spontaneous and induced abortion in human and non-human primates. In D. Raphael (Ed.). Being female: Reproduction, power, and change. The Hague: Mouton.
Oakley, A. (1982). Obstetric practice: Cross-cultural comparisons. In P. Stratton (Ed.). Psychobiology of the human newborn. New York: Wiley.
Piers, M. (1978). Infanticide. New York: Norton.
Protho, E. T. (1967). Child rearing in the Lebanon. Harvard Middle Eastern Monographs VIII. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Rohner, R. P. (1975). They love me, they love me not: A worldwide study of the effects of parental acceptance and rejection. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files Press.
Rohner, R. P. (1980). Worldwide tests of parental acceptance-rejection theory, Behavioral Science Research, 15, 1-21.
Rohner, R. P. (1986). The warmth dimension: Foundations of parental acceptance-rejection theory. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Rohner, R. P. and Rohner, E. C. (1980). Special issue on worldwide tests of parental acceptance-rejection theory. Behavior Science Research, 15.
Rohner, R. P. and Rohner, E. C. (1981). Parental acceptance-rejection and parental control: Cross-cultural codes. Ethnology, 20(3), 245-260.
Rosenfield, A. (1989). Maternal mortality in developing countries: An ongoing but neglected "epidemic." Journal of the American Medical Association, 262, 376-379.
Sargent, C. F. (1988). Born to die: Witchcraft and infanticide in Bariba culture. Ethnology, 27(1), 79-95.
Sautman, F. (1986). Woman as birth-and-death-giver in folk tradition: A cross-cultural perspective. Women's Studies, 12, 213-239.
Scaletta, N. M. (1986). Childbirth: A Case History from West New Britain. Papua New Guinea. Oceania, 57, 33-52.
Scheper-Hughes, N. (Ed.). Child survival: Anthropological perspectives on the treatment and maltreatment of children. Dordrecht, Germany: D. Reidel.
Scrimshaw, S. C. M. (1978). Infant mortality and behavior in the regulation of family size. Population and Development Review, 4(3), 383-403.
Scrimshaw, S. C. M. (1984). Infanticide in human populations: Societal and individual concerns. In G. Hausfater and S. B. Hrdy (Eds.). Infanticide: Comparative and evolutionary perspectives. New York: Aldine.
Smith, T. C. (1977). Nakahara: Family farming and population in a Japanese village, 1717-1830. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Sommer, V. (1987). Infanticide among free-ranging langurs (Presbytie entellus) at Jodhpur (Rajasthan/India): Recent observations and a reconsideration of hypotheses. Primates, 28(2), 163-197.
Speckhard, A. and Rue, V. (1993). Complicated mourning: Dynamics of impacted post-abortion grief. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 8(1), 000-000
Strathern, M. (1972). Women in between: Female roles in a male world, Mount Hagen, New Guinea. London: Seminar Press.
Tarara, E. B. (1987). Infanticide in a chacma baboon troop. Primates, 28(2), 267-270.
Tonkinson, R. (1978). The Mardudjara Aborigines: Living the dream in Australia's desert. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Turner, A. W. (1978) Rituals of birth: From prehistory to the present. New York: David McKay.
Wagley, C. (1977). Welcome of tears: The Tapirape Indians of Central Brazil. New York: Oxford University Press.
Whiting, J., Bogucki, P., Kwong, W. -Y. and Nigro, J. (1977). Infanticide. Society for Cross-Cultural Research Newsletter, No. 5 (September).
Williamson, L. (1978). Infanticide: An anthropological analysis. In M. Kohl (Ed.). Infanticide and the value of life. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, pp. 61-75.
Charles D. Laughlin, Ph.D.
Charles D. Laughlin, Ph.D., is a professor of anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA K1S 5B6, Phone: (819) 459-1121. He is the co-author of Biogenetic Structuralism (1974), The Spectrum of Ritual (1979), Extinction and Survival in Human Populations (1978), Science As Cognitive Process (1984), and Brain, Symbol and Experience (1990). He is also a past editor of The Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal and is the current editor of The Anthropology of Consciousness. This paper was presented at the 6th International Congress of the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Association of North America (PPPANA), July 29-August 1, 1993. The author wishes to thank Dr. Robbie Davis-Floyd and Dr. Wenda Trevathan for their comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this paper. "Pre and Perinatal Anthropology," parts I and II, appeared in Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal - Volume 3, Number 4, and Volume 7, Number 1, respectively.
JOURNAL OF PRENATAL AND PERINATAL PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH publishes research and clinical articles from the cutting edge of the science of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. The journal, published quarterly since 1986, is dedicated to the in-depth exploration human reproduction and pregnancy and the mental and emotional development of the unborn and newborn child.