Birth in Eight Cultures

Bahareh Goodarzi, Melisa Cheyney, Therese Wiegers, Roebbie Davis-Floyd, Saraswathi Vedam

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterProfessional


“Birth in Four Cultures had a long, honorable, and influential life, but it’s time for a new look at the world of birthing.” — Brigitte Jordan (1937–2016)

This stunning sequel to Brigitte Jordan’s landmark Birth in Four Cultures brings together the work of fifteen reproductive anthropologists to address core cultural values and knowledge systems as revealed in contemporary birth practices in Brazil, Greece, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Tanzania, and the United States. Six ethnographic chapters form the heart of the book, three of which are set up as dyads that compare two countries; each demonstrates the power of anthropology’s cross-cultural comparative method. An additional chapter with ethnographic vignettes gives readers a feel for what fieldwork is really like on the ground.

The eminently readable, theoretically rich chapters are enhanced by absorbing stories, photos, quotes, thought questions, and film suggestions that nudge the reader toward eureka flashes of understanding and render the book suitable for undergraduate and graduate audiences alike.
Table of Contents
1. Birth As Culturally Marked and Shaped (Melissa Cheyney and Robbie Davis-Floyd)
How This Book Was Born / The Cultural Making and Shaping of Birth / The Technocratic, Humanistic, and Holistic Paradigms of Birth and the Midwifery Model of Care / An Overview of the Chapters in This Volume / Before We Begin: Some Quick Notes on Language

2. Teaching about Childbirth in Mexico: Working across Birth Models (Lydia Zacher Dixon, Vania Smith-Oka, and Mounia El Kotni)
Background and Context / Methods and Sites / Performing Authority: A Professional Midwife-Attended Birth in a Birthing Room / Authority in Birth Transfer: A Traditional Midwife-Attended Labor and a Hospital Birth / Authoritative Knowledge Production and Reproduction / Implications for Women's Health Outcomes / The Future of Mexico's Approach to Birth

3. Choiceless Choice in Tanzania: Homebirth, Hospital Birth, and Birth Registration (Megan Cogburn, Adrienne Strong, and Summer Wood)
Tanzanian Conceptions of the Body / The Three Regions / Fining Homebirth in Rural Tanzania: Local Consequences of the Global Push for More Facility Births / "Hospitals Are the Only Place": Shrinking Choices and the Burden of Caring in Resource-Poor Facilities / Registering Births and Becoming Modern Parents in Dar Es Salaam / Birth in Tanzania at the Crossroads of Choice and Policy / Innovations for Positive Change

4. Comparing Childbirth in Brazil and Japan: Social Hierarchies, Cultural Values, and the Meaning of Place (K. Eliza Williamson and Etsuko Matsuoka)
Stratified Birth in Brazil: Place, Race, Class, and Technomedical Hegemony / Unstratified Birth in Japan: The Midwifery Paradox and the Influence of Place / Jica and Projeta Luz: An Important Cross-Cultural Collaboration / Discussion: Outcomes, Stratification, Core Values, and Cultural Views of the Body / The Significance of Space and Place

5. Divergent Meaning and Practices of Childbirth in Greece and New Zealand (Eugenia Georges and Rea Daellenbach)
Childbirth in Greece: Technocratic Knowledge as Authoritative / Childbirth in New Zealand: The Primacy of Choice / Contrasting Cultural Models of Birth / The Formal and Informal Political Economy of Maternity in Greece / The Social Contract for Maternity Care in New Zealand / The Normalization of Cesareans in Greece: Doctors and Women's Expectations of Birth / The Normalization of Vaginal Birth in New Zealand / Emergent Possibilities: Immigrants and Midwives in the Greek Public Hospitals / Conclusion: Major Differences and a Few Commonalities

6. Giving Birth in the United States and the Netherlands: Midwifery Care as Integrated Option or Contested Privilege? (Melissa Cheyney, Bahareh Goodarzi, Therese Wiegers, Robbie Davis-Floyd, and Saraswathi Vedam)
Disparate Maternity Care Systems: Provider Types, Midwifery Education, and Maternal Choice / Locating Midwives in the Netherlands and the United States: Unique Historical Trajectories / Barriers to Integrated Care and Their Impact on Outcomes in the Netherlands and the United States / Discussion: Childbirth Paradigms in Dutch and US Contexts / Conclusion: History, the Biosocial Nature of Birth, and Working across Paradigms / Postscript

7. Reflective Ethnographic Vignettes: Confronting Yourself in the Field

8. Where We Have Been and Where We Are Headed (Robbie Davis-Floyd and Melissa Cheyney)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGiving Birth in the United States and the Netherlands: Midwifery Care as Integrated Option or Contested Privilege?
Place of PublicationIL, USA
PublisherWaveland Press
ISBN (Print)978-1-4786-3790-5
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

Cite this