"A Résumé for the Baby": Biosocial Precarity and Care of Substance-Using, Pregnant Women in San Francisco.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

In the United States, the historical condemnation and punitive legal consequences of substance use during pregnancy-ranging from incarceration to termination of parental custody of a newborn-render pregnant women in state of biosocial precarity. Yet pregnant women who use illicit substances who desire to parent must generate a legible narrative for bureaucratic groups, such as Child Protective Services, through engagement with biomedical care in order to demonstrate parental capacity. Based on longitudinal interviews with pregnant women who were actively using illicit substances and attempting to parent after delivery, we posit that the relationship between biosocial precarity and biomedical care is a procedural interaction that is rooted in the potential to parent, described as the ability to have a "take-home baby." In order to achieve this goal, the need for engagement in biomedical care and the creation of a biomedical narrative, described as a "résumé for the baby" is required. The relationship between care and biosocial precarity is a unique, underdeveloped concept within medical anthropology and has important consequences not only for the ethical turn within anthropology, but also how applied researchers consider engagement with this highly marginalized, vulnerable population.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Premkumar, A; Kerns, J; Huchko, MJ

Published Date

  • March 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 44 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 35 - 55

PubMed ID

  • 31055757

Pubmed Central ID

  • 31055757

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-076X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11013-019-09634-9


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands