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Title: Of bellies and books : (re)positioning the subject within the education/pregnancy nexus in Mozambique
Author: Salvi, Francesca
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 2352
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2014
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‘Of Bellies and Books' refers to pregnancy and formal education, constructed as mutually exclusive processes. This thesis explores that opposition by tracing the confluence of discourses through which it is produced. In so doing, it dissolves dichotomies and proposes a shift to the subject as both constituted by and constituting of discourses. Both academic research and global and national social policy construct teenage pregnancy as problematic. This is heightened in development contexts, where in-school pregnancy triggers Malthusian fears of overpopulation and consequential poverty increase. Conversely, formal education and training are represented as a means to personal development and success, through acquiring knowledge and skills leading to formal employment and individual empowerment. In this sense, schooling is constructed as a symbol of - or entrance to - modernity, while pregnancy and parenthood are defined in terms of the opportunities they prevent. From this perspective, in-school pregnancy works against individual and social progress and is synonymous with backwardness and tradition within a modernising and globalised world. Exploring in-school pregnancy in this thesis becomes a means through which to revoke the binary symbolised by tradition and modernity which produces a deficit view of the pregnant schoolgirl. Within this context, the study has been driven by the following research questions: · How do education policy and practice frame in-school pregnancy in Mozambique? · How do families interpret and regulate in-school pregnancy? · How do young people – young women – navigate the available discourses in the performance of their identities? Stimulated by a desire to explore the national policy tackling in-school pregnancy indicating that pregnant schoolgirls should be transferred to night courses, the empirical data collection took place within 10 months in and around the capital Maputo. It entailed documentary analysis, interviews with 10 Ministry of Education officials, 20 school teachers and 33 young people (25 girls and 8 men/boys) in and out of education. Through the generation and analysis of data, I develop a nuanced interpretation of the discourses that construct and regulate in-school pregnancy within schools and families. Within the institutional space of schools, a textual analysis of the policy shows how language borrowed from the biomedical and legal fields is directed towards the production of in-school pregnancy as unwanted, unplanned and ultimately ‘wrong'. This normalises the difference between pregnant and non-pregnant schoolgirls, producing transfer to night courses as a rational strategy to tackle in-school pregnancy. Although understood as a means to bridge the gender gap in education by tackling one of the main causes of female dropout, the current policy acts de facto as a highway to dropout, thereby reproducing gender exclusion. Within families, pregnancy initiates the complex procedure of family formation by drawing on the mutually exclusive categories of childhood and adulthood and symbolising the transition between the two. I contend that these two spaces, schools and families, often associated by research participants with modernity and tradition respectively, are not stable and homogenous constructs, but offer shifting and contingent sets of norms which are both conflicting and intersecting. By engaging with young people's narratives, I argue that pregnant schoolgirls, while being constructed by discursive norms, also resist and react to them. At school, young pregnant females enact a number of strategies to resist transfer to night courses. At home, they resist family formation and find ways to combine their multiple identities. By drawing on this, I ultimately contend that young pregnant schoolgirls navigate different regulatory frameworks in the production of their identities. This means that the itineraries they construct in crossing boundaries within normative frameworks constitute their identities and reposition them as travellers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LG641 Portuguese Africa (Former) ; RG0551 Pregnancy