The politics of children: Fosterage and the social management of fertility among the mende of Sierra Leone

Caroline Bledsoe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

This chapter discusses the more mechanical aspects of child-caretaker relations. It shows that although fosterage is not one way to gain benefits from children, a foster child nor, for that matter, a natural child yield guaranteed benefits to caretakers. The chapter describes how adults, seeking to alleviate risk and future uncertainty, try to stakeclaims in children, especially those with promise for success in later life. It explores the importance of sociopolitical processes of negotiating benefits from children. Mende adults and children can tinker with their relationships, creating new ties, strengthening old ones, and redefining burdensome ones. Apparently the Mende had a concept of "development"before they were incorporated into the colony of Sierra Leone. Under the British colonial regime, local polities in Sierra Leone were incorporated into a system of chieftaincies within the national Parliamentary and Presidential system. Butthe national structure, despite its formal nomenclature, has remained basically a patron-client system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBirths and Power
Subtitle of host publicationSocial Change and the Politics of Reproduction
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages81-100
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780429693922
ISBN (Print)0813377870, 9780367013257
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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