Heather Anne Paxson

Extension: x3-7270
Office: 16-247
Department: Anthropology

Heather Paxson received her PhD from Stanford University and her BA from Haverford College. She is interested in how people craft a sense of themselves as moral beings in everyday, bodily practices including sex, reproduction, and eating. She conducted her doctoral research in Athens, Greece, where she investigated the apparent paradox of a child-loving Mediterranean society in which the abortion rate is twice the national birth rate. Her book, Making Modern Mothers: Ethics and Family Planning in Urban Greece (2004, University of California Press), argues that Athenian women have incorporated abortion into a moral - indeed, maternal - framework, in which it is better to interrupt a pregnancy than to raise a child inadequately. She details how, amidst nationalist concern over declining birth rates, the consumption of imported consumer goods and reproductive technologies generates profound ambivalence in Athenians' moral evaluations of abortion, contraception, and in vitro fertilization. At stake are ideas about what it means to be a Greek woman or man in the modern world. Her current research furthers her concern with ethics and embodiment: this time her subject is food. Through ethnographic work, she is studying a 'renaissance' in United States artisanal cheese production. Farmstead cheese provides a ripe opportunity to investigate the legal, moral, and community politics that organize food production, distribution, and eating in the U.S. Heather teaches courses on Gender, Sexuality and Society; Reproductive Politics and Technologies; and Food and Culture.