11. April – 14. April 2023
Panel at the ASA 2023 conference „An unwell world? Anthropology in a speculative mode” in London
This panel considers how “all is not well with birth” (Chadwick, 2018), welcoming insights from across reproductive and maternal health. We invite panellists to re-envision care worlds and speculate how anthropology can contribute to the provision of equitable and respectful health systems.
“All is not well with birth” (Chadwick, 2018). Despite the widespread improvements in maternity services, global and local inequalities in care and outcomes persist, and disproportionate rates of maternal and infant mortality cut along racial, economic and geographical lines. The WHO named 2020 ‘Year of the Nurse and Midwife,’ recognising midwives’ pivotal role in public health, yet the same year the COVID-19 pandemic upended reproductive and maternity services, leaving many women and birthing people without essential antenatal, birth and postnatal care. Reproductive rights, obstetric violence and birth trauma are pressing issues, while rates of caesarean sections and obstetric interventions continue to rise around the world. The challenges and struggles related to ‘politics of reproduction’ (Ginsburg and Rapp, 1991) have never been more fraught and urgent.
This panel considers the state of birth but also welcomes insights from scholars working across reproductive and maternal health. We recognise that experiences and provision of services often hang together on a ‘continuum of care’, involving collaboration with “all relevant health care educations, providers, institutions and organizations” including traditional caregivers, birth attendants and midwives (Davis-Floyd, 2022). Anthropologists have held a prominent role in critiquing biomedical ways of knowing and doing birth, and recent work suggests more hopeful visions of care, situated in life-affirming practices prioritising cultural safety and well-being. In looking for solutions, we invite panellists to re-envision care worlds and speculate on how anthropology can be a source contributing to the provision equitable, respectful and sustainable reproductive and maternity care for all.
Call for papers closes on 7 January 2023.
Cassandra and Chiara