"Few experiences are more potent than reproduction. Countless Blessings brilliantly unwinds the full import of this potency, tracing a history of demography, bodily peril, parental joy, and social, religious, and political meaning. Cooper's tremendous skill and creativity as a scholar enable us to see the political stakes of reproduction, even as they are grounded in the intimacies of embodied experience."
Julie Livingston, author of Self-Devouring Growth: A Planetary Parable as Told from Southern Africa
Barbara Cooper's insightful book explores a central paradox: why does Niger's extremely high fertility rate coexist with extraordinary anxiety about fertility in the country. Cooper traces this paradox through the long 20th century, from the introduction of colonial medicine and mission medicine to global health interventions today. In lucid prose, she analyzes how the absence of a health infrastructure, combined with a culture of shame surrounding illegitimacy and infertility have foreclosed solutions that might promote women's sexual and reproductive health. Countless Blessings is beautifully written, insightful, and full of empathy. A must read for anyone seeking to understand the damaging consequences of neglecting women's and infants health."
Johanna Schoen, author of Abortion after Roe
Barbara M. Cooper sketches out a long history of social practice and social values tied to fertility and childbirth in contemporary Niger. The story hinges on localized events and predicaments—expeditions, naming ceremonies, scandals, crises—as a way of illustrating larger sets of concerns and ideas."
Emily Burrill, author of States of Marriage