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. In this article, which is based on interviews with American direct-entry midwives and Mexican traditional midwives, I examine what happens when transport occurs, how the outcomes of prior transports affect future decision-making, and how the lessons derived from the transport experiences of birthing women and […]

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 and value systems, and birth choices of forty middle-class women–32 professional women who accept the technocratic paradigm, and eight homebirthers who reject it.

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 matter how long or short, how easy or hard their labors, the vast majority of American women are hooked up to an electronic fetal monitor and an IV (intravenously administered fluids and/or medication), are encouraged to use pain-relieving drugs, receive an episiotomy (a surgical incision […]

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 another question. “Try and fix it,” said the modern chaffeuse. “And if you couldn’t?” “Have it hauled to the nearest garage.” “Exactly. Where the trained mechanics and their necessary tools are,” agreed the doctor. “It’s the same with the hospital. I can do my best […]

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 […]

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.

Articles on childbirth and obstetrics

Articles on childbirth and obstetrics “On Pregnancy” (ok as is) “On Childbirth” (ok as is) “Childbirth” (Sagesbirth4) “Culture and Birth: The Technocratic Imperative” {ok as is} “The Rituals of American Hospital Birth” {ok as is} “Obstetric Training as a Rite of Passage” (ok as is} “The Technocratic Body: American Childbirth as Cultural Expression” {ok as is} “The Technocratic Model of Birth” {TechMod} “The Technocratic, Humanistic, and Holistic Models of Birth” {ok as is} “Anthropology and Birth Activism: What Do We Know?” {ANBirth6}

Inner space and outer space as cyberspace?

Inner space and outer space as cyberspace? Technocratizing Womb and World Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association December 1994, Atlanta Draft for Oral Presentation–References Not Included. Abstract Current planning for the commercialization of outer space by a NASA/aerospace industry interface group called SATWG (Strategic Avionics Technology Working Group) is focusing on the creation of a “shared vision” that stresses increased launch vehicle capacity, with one end goal being the ready delivery of more and more satellites into LEO (low earth orbit). This emergent phenomenon–an organic, living planet ringed by thousands and thousands of satellites, all sucking information up from the earth and beaming information down at it–seems to me to constitute a techno-organic system, a […]

From technobirth to cyborg babies

From technobirth to cyborg babies Reflections on the Emergent Discourse of a Holistic Anthropologist Cyborg imagery can help express two crucial arguments…first, the production of universal, totalizing theory is a major mistake that misses most of reality, probably always, but certainly now; and second, taking responsibility for the social relations of science and technology means refusing an anti-science metaphysics, a demonology of technology, and so means embracing the skillful task of reconstructing the boundaries of daily life, in partial connection with others, in communication with all of our parts…Cyborg imagery can suggest a way out of the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves…Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I […]

On pregnancy

On pregnancy Robbie E. Davis-Floyd, Ph.D. and Eugenia Georges, Ph.D. This entry appears in the Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology, New Haven CT: Human Relations Area Files, 1996. pp. 1014-1016 The experience of pregnancy encompasses physiological, psychological, spiritual, and socio-cultural dimensions. Because the future of any given culture depends heavily on women’s procreative abilities, these abilities carry strong social significance. Thus, every culture takes upon itself the regulation and management of women’s pregnancies. In other words, pregnancy is never an unmarked category; in every society, it is the occasion for special attention and specialized treatment, in forms that vary widely. In Polynesia, for example, the news of a pregnancy is greeted with great joy. Pregnant women move about freely, are nurtured […]

Culture and birth

Culture and birth: the technocratic imperative This aticle was published in the International Journal of Childbirth Education, 9(2):6-7, 1994 Through the act of controlling birth, we disassociate ourselves with its raw power. Disassociation makes it easier to identify with our “civilized” nature, deny our “savage” roots and connection with indigenous cultures. Birth simultaneously encompasses the three events that civilized societies fear–birth, death, and sexuality.