Articles

On reproduction

On reproduction Robbie Davis-Floyd and Sarah Franklin This article appears in the Sage Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Sage Publications, 2005. “Reproduction” in anthropology refers to the processes by which new social members are produced — specifically, the physiological processes of conception, pregnancy, birth, and child-raising. In its larger sense, “reproduction” is used to encompass the processes by which societies are reproduced for the future. The term is thus fraught with biological, cultural, and political meanings; power is a central focus in reproductive studies, as those who have the power to influence the process of reproduction can control large populations for better or for worse.

Midwifery

Midwifery Robbie Davis-Floyd and Gwynne L. Jenkins This article appears in the Sage Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Sage Publications, 2005. Attendance at birth has been suggested to be essential in facilitating mother-child survival as the physiology of birth changed during human evolutionary history. “Midwife,” an Anglo-Saxon term meaning “with woman,” aptly describes the role that women have long assumed as birth attendants. The anthropology of midwifery is the study of non-physician primary birth attendants within and across cultures. The birth attendant is not always a specialist, nor do all cultures have specifically delineated roles for birth attendants. Thus our definition of the anthropology of midwifery is expansive enough to include a wide range of biomedical and non-biomedical, formal and informal birth […]

Sages birth 4

On birth This article appears in the Sage Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Sage Publications, 2005 Until recently in human history, birth has been exclusively the work of the work of women as they labor and bear down with their uterine muscles to push their babies from the private inner world of their wombs into the larger world of society and culture. Yet today increasing numbers of women around the world have their babies pulled through the vaginal canal with forceps or vacuum extractors, or cut from their wombs via cesarean section. The medical definition of birth is the emergence of a baby from a womb—a definition that ignores all issues of women’s involvement and agency. This definition and its implications encode […]

Reproductive technologies

Reproductive technologies Sarah Franklin PhD, Dept. of Sociology, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK Robbie Davis-Floyd Ph D,Research Fellow, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Texas Austin This article appears in the Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women, New York: Routledge, 2001. All human societies in all historical periods have developed techniques to prevent and to facilitate conception, and to shape culturally the physiological processes of gestation, labor, birth, and breastfeeding. There is, however, no precedent for the rapid expansion of reproductive technologies in the latter half of the twentieth century—an expansion that has dramatically redefined the parameters of biological reproduction. From the birth of the world’s first test-tube baby in 1978 to the cloning of a higher vertebrate from an adult cell in […]

On Childbirth

On Childbirth This entry appears in the Blackwell Dictionary of Anthropology. Thomas Barfield, ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1996 Childbirth is the work of women as they labor and bear down with their uterine muscles to push their babies from the private inner world of their wombs into the larger world of society and culture. Although childbirth is a universal fact of human physiology, where, how, with whom, and even when a woman gives birth are often culturally determined.

Types of midwifery training : An anthropological overview

Types of midwifery training : An anthropological overview by Robbie Davis-Floyd PhD This article appears in Pathways to Becoming a Midwife: Getting an Education, eds. Joel Southern, Jennifer Rosenberg, and Jan Tritten. Eugene, Oregon: Midwifery Today, 1998, pp. 119-193. Copyright is held both by Robbie E. Davis-Floyd and Midwifery Today, 1998. Either copyright holder may give full permission for this article to be reprinted or reproduced. Robbie E. Davis-Floyd hereby gives permission for this article to be copied and distributed for educational and informational purposes. Potential midwives reading this book will want help in picking their educational path. Hoping to be of assistance, I offer the following brief overview. (More thorough and detailed overviews can be found in Frye 1995: […]

Ways of knowing: open and closed systems

Ways Of knowing : open and closed systems Robbie Davis-Floyd This article appears in Midwifery Today 69 (Spring): 9-13. Copyright is held both by Midwifery Today and by Robbie Davis-Floyd. Both give permission for the replication of this article for educational purposes. This special issue of Midwifery Today focuses on midwifery knowledge. The following articles in it will address the specifics of this body of knowledge. But first, it is important to take a broader look at the differences between open and closed knowledge systems. Why? Because any knowledge system whose adherents wish it to remain responsive to changing events in a rapidly changing world must remain open to absorbing new information and adapting itself to that new information. To […]

Some thoughts on bridging the gap between nurse – and direct-entry midwives

Some thoughts on bridging the gap between nurse – and direct-entry midwives by Robbie Davis-Floyd This article appears in Midwifery Today, March issue, 1999. The author and Midwifery Today grant permission for its replication for educational purposes. It is with dismay that I have listened, for the past five years or so, to direct-entry midwives criticizing nurse-midwives as “medwives” and “physician extenders,” and to nurse-midwives talking about professional direct-entry midwives as if they don’t know very much, and working in some states to pass exclusionary laws. Such behavior is a classic feature of oppressed groups who turn on each other instead of concentrating on fighting their oppressors. An oppressed group will tend to want to fight its battle for identity […]

The ups, downs and interlinkages of nurse- and direct-entry midwifery

The ups, downs and interlinkages of nurse- and direct-entry midwifery : status, practice, and education by Robbie E. Davis-Floyd Ph.D. This article appears in Pathways to Becoming a Midwife: Getting an Education, A Midwifery Today book. Eugene, Oregon: Midwifery Today, 1998, pp. 67-118. Copyright is held both by Robbie E. Davis-Floyd and Midwifery Today, 1998. Either copyright holder may give full permission for this article to be reprinted or reproduced. Robbie E. Davis-Floyd hereby gives permission for this article to be copied and distributed for educational and informational purposes.