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Fetal Personhood in the Christian Philippines: The View from a Visayan Island

Hannah C. M. Bulloch


Issues of fetal personhood have been controversial in the Philippines in the context of reproductive health debates, but little is understood about how ordinary Filipinos construct fetal and early infant personhood in the context of their everyday lives. This article draws on ethnographic research in Siquijor, a Central Visayan island with a Catholic population. Based on conversations about pregnancy and miscarriage, I show that unlike notions promoted by elites of the Catholic Church, which fix personhood to the moment of conception, local notions of personhood are processual. Significantly, ensoulment, while thought to occur at conception, is not sufficient to produce a person.

Keywords: fetal development • death • souls • hauntings • religion

Full Text: PDF

Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints is published by the Ateneo de Manila University

ISSN: 2244-1093 (Print)

ISSN: 2244-1638 (Online)