How Relations Make Persons: Rituals Accompanying Childbirth and Socialization of Infants in Kyrgyzstan

in Central Asian Affairs
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Most ethnographies of childbirth are situated in the field of medical anthropology and focus on the interplay of different medical traditions and power relations. A smaller number of works examine activities and rituals accompanying childbirth in the context of integrating new members into the community and constituting the “person” by means of creating or changing relations to the “socio-cosmological universe.” Following the latter, the paper analyzes rituals and practices surrounding childbirth and the socialization of children during their first year of life in Kyrgyzstan. I argue that personhood is established through careful work on relationships to entities situated in the social and cosmic domains of the society. The paper draws on ethnographic research in north Kyrgyzstan and explores ideas about conception, rules of conduct during pregnancy, and the life cycle rituals zhentek toĭ, beshik toĭ, and tushoo toĭ. 1