"Looking for children": The search for fertility among the Sara of southern Chad

Lori Leonard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Despite the long history of infertility and childlessness in Central Africa, and the ongoing demand for treatment of fertility-related problems, the interpretations and experiences of the men and women living in the region vis-à vis the inability to have children remain largely unrecorded. In this paper I examine what the Sara, one of Chad's largest ethnic groups, have to say about fertility problems, and how these views are linked to changes in the social, cultural, and economic landscape of southern Chad in the 20th century. I describe the iterative and inductive process, commonly referred to by the Sara as "doing research," that the Sara use to explore the reasons for the inability to conceive or bear children in the face of multiple reproductive threats. The Sara's causal constructions convey a holistic and multifaceted perspective on this demographic anomaly - a perspective that is missing from most demographic and epidemiologic accounts and that has important implications for public health policy and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-112
Number of pages34
JournalMedical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Central Africa
  • Chad
  • Infertility
  • Population policy
  • Reproductive health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology


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