Taking the memory of pronatalism in contemporary Romania as a case study, this article is an attempt to view the national politics of memory of contemporary Europe with regard to its communist past from an anthropological perspective. From 1966 to 1989, the communist regime imposed extreme policies of controlled demography in Romania, as it was imputed, for 'the good of the socialist nation'. Profamily measures were developed in parallel to the banning of abortion on request and the making of contraception almost inaccessible. The social remembering of such a difficult past is still a taboo in contemporary Romanian society. This general lack of public remembering, which is still playing a role in the current situation of Romania's reproductive health, is influenced by the interrelations between the different forms of pronatalist memory. The analysis is based on oral history fieldwork conducted between 2003 and 2008, and is theoretically informed by the interdisciplinary field of Memory Studies.
A Case Study on Romania's Ways of Remembering its Pronatalist Past
Familialism and the National Revolution in 1940s Morocco
Margaret Cook Anderson
This article explores the influence of Vichy’s National Revolution in the empire by looking at the establishment of the Office de la Famille Française (FFO) in Morocco in 1941. The purpose of the FFO was to develop reforms aimed at assisting French families and increasing the French settler birthrate. The Residency, in consultation with settler familialist organizations, created this administrative body in the hopes that it would encourage French population growth, something they considered to be essential to the preservation of French interests in the protectorate. The FFO dispensed a variety of financial benefits to French families including birth incentives and marriage loans. All French citizens were obligated to join the FFO, thereby making the colony’s French children a collective responsibility.. Those who lacked sufficient numbers of qualifying French children were required to pay the familial compensation tax to help fund the FFO and in this way support other French families.
The Politics of Female Identity in Maternité (1929) and La Maternelle (1933)
Cheryl A. Koos
This essay explores Jean Benoît-Lévy and Marie Epstein's box-office success La Maternelle and their lesser-known Maternité in the context of interwar debates over women's roles in society. Reflecting natalist-familialist conceptions of motherhood and femininity, the films magnified three pervasive cultural icons in French social and political discourse: the monstrous, childless "modern woman," the exalted mother, and the "single woman" who fell somewhere in the middle. As both products and vehicles of these tropes, La Maternelle and Maternité not only illustrate how popular cinema disseminated and justified certain value-laden assumptions about female identity in the late 1920s and early 1930s; they also reveal the limitations of French feminism and socially-engaged, progressive art of the period.
The C-section at the Intersection of Pronatalism and Ethnicity in Turkey
In this article, I investigate the politicisation of the Caesarean-section (C-section) in Turkey as an anti-natalist procedure. In 2012, the Turkish state began to implement a series of interventions to lower the high rates of birth by C-section, which culminated in an attempted ban on elective C-section. In a previously unseen way, I argue that this intervention was based on the logic that because women are not medically recommended to undergo several C-sections, this surgical procedure limits the number of children a woman can give birth to, causing a concomitant decrease in population growth rates. This article traces the ways in which pronatalist discourses and interventions become meaningful in the medical setting by addressing the politicisation of C-sections. It examines how the C-section reflects a particular population discourse, which is marked by a moral language that stigmatises the fertility of Kurdish women.
Gender and Public Memory in the Sighet Museum, Romania
The Memorial Museum of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance is the main museum of communism in Romania. This article a ends to this museum's politics of representing gender and argues that its exhibits reify resistance to and victimization by the communist regime as masculine. The museum marginalizes women, in general, and renders unmemorable women's lives under Nicolae Ceauşescu's pronatalist regime, in particular. The absence is significant because Romania is the only country in the former communist bloc where women experienced unique forms of systematic political victimization under Ceauşescu's nationalist-socialist politics of forced birth. This article illustrates how the museum's investment in an anti-communist discourse creates a gendered representation of political action under the communist regime.