4 Stages of Cognition

Open and Closed Knowledge Systems, the 4 Stages of Cognition, and the Cultural Management of Birth

This conceptual “think piece” looks at levels or Stages of Cognition, equating each of the Four Stages I examine with an anthropological concept. I equate Stage 1—rigid or concrete thinking—with naïve realism (“our way is the only way,” fundamentalism (“our way should be the only way and those who do not follow it are doomed”), and fanaticism (“our way is so right that everyone who disagrees with it should be either converted or eliminated”). I […]

Articles on Pregnancy and Birth

Home birth emergencies in the U.S. and Mexico

Home birth emergencies in the U.S. and Mexico : The Trouble with Transport Robbie Davis-Floyd Ph.D. This article appears in a special issue of Social Science and Medicine, called Reproduction Gone Awry, edited by Marcia Inhorn and Gwynne Jenkins, Vol. 56, No. 9, 2003,pp. 1913-1931. Abstract: Proponents of the global Safe Motherhood Initiative stress that primary keys to safe home birth include transport to the hospital in cases of need and effective care on arrival. […]

Space Stories: Oral Histories from the Pioneers of the American Space Program

Space stories

Space stories : Oral Histories From The Pioneers of America’s Space Program An Oral History Project conducted in conjunction with the Houston Chapter of the AIAA and Honeywell Corporation Official histories often make it appear that nations make big decisions based on thorough research and understanding. But when the individuals intimately involved in those big decisions are given voice, a very different story emerges–one of hops and skips, personality clashes and chats between friends, and […]

Articles on Pregnancy and Birth

The technocratic body

The technocratic body : American Childbirth as Cultural Expression This article appeared in Social Science and Medicine 38(8):1125-1140, 1994 Abstract The dominant mythology of a culture is often displayed in the rituals with which it surrounds birth. In contemporary Western society, that mythology–the mythology of the technocracy–is enacted through obstetrical procedures, the rituals of hospital birth. This article explores the links between our culture’s mythological technocratic model of birth and the body images, individual belief […]

Articles on Pregnancy and Birth

The rituals of american hospital birth

The rituals of american hospital birth This article appears in Conformity and Conflict: Readings in Cultural Anthropology, 8th ed., David McCurdy, ed., HarperCollins, New York, 1994, pp. 323-340. Permission is hereby granted by the author and copyright holder, Robbie E. Davis-Floyd, to reproduce this article for educational purposes Why is childbirth, which should be such a unique and individual experience for the woman, treated in such a highly standardized way in the United States? No […]

Articles on Death

The art of grieving gracefully

The art of grieving gracefully: Robbie Davis-Floyd’s Suggestions for Coping with Loss and Pain Begun in January 2002, completed for the moment June 2005 My daughter Peyton Elizabeth Floyd died as the result of a car accident in September 2000, four days before her 21st birthday. These are some of the things I learned from the experience of coping with this devastating loss. They begin with suggestions for the immediate period after a loved one’s […]

Articles on Pregnancy and Birth

The technocratic model of birth

The technocratic model of birth Robbie E. Davis-Floyd This chapter appeared in Feminist Theory in the Study of Folklore, eds. Susan Tower Hollis, Linda Pershing, and M. Jane Young, U. of Illinois Press, pp. 297-326, 1993. “But is the hospital necessary at all?” demanded a young woman of her obstetrician friend. “Why not bring the baby at home?” “What would you do if your automobile broke down on a country road?” the doctor countered with […]


Storying corporate futures

Storying corporate futures: The Shell Scenarios An Interview with Betty Sue Flowers This chapter appeared in Corporate Futures, Volume V of the Late Editions Series, George Marcus ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. Introduction This chapter contains two interviews that I conducted with Betty Sue Flowers about her writing and editing of Shell International’s 1992 and 1995 futures-planning scenarios. I first met Betty Sue at a men’s conference (a la Robert Bly and the […]


Bucky balls, fullerenes, and the future

Bucky balls, fullerenes, and the future: An Oral History Interview with Professor Richard E. Smalley January 22, 2000 Nanotechnology is the art and science of building materials and devices at the ultimate level of finesse: atom by atom. Like a tiny poem with every word and space wisely placed, a thing built by nanotechnology has every atom in its place, and never two where one will do. . . .Today we begin a collaboration with […]

Articles on the New Reproductive Technologies

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 […]