Birth as an American Rite of Passage

Birth as an American Rite of Passage

Language: English

Pages: 424

ISBN: 0520229320

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Why do so many American women allow themselves to become enmeshed in the standardized routines of technocratic childbirth--routines that can be insensitive, unnecessary, and even unhealthy? Anthropologist Robbie Davis-Floyd first addressed these questions in the 1992 edition. Her new preface to this 2003 edition of a book that has been read, applauded, and loved by women all over the world, makes it clear that the issues surrounding childbirth remain as controversial as ever.

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feeding, electronic monitoring, and episiotomy are felt by those who perform them to transform the unpredictable and uncontrollable natural process of birth into a relatively predictable and controllable technological phenomenon that reinforces American society's most fundamental beliefs about the superiority of technology over nature. My focus in this book will be on the cognitive transformation of birthing women through these rituals of hospital birth. RESEARCH METHODS AND THEORETICAL CONCERNS

trade with the Arab world in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Aristotelian precepts 50 The Technocratic Model were thoroughly studied and eagerly incorporated by religious thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas, and by early scientists like Galileo, creating a hegemony of opinion about the superiority of the male in both the scientific and religious thought of post-medieval Europe. From this hegemony we moderns have inherited a pervasive legacy of symbolic thinking-a legacy of which we are

technocratic model; and (2) to develop a set of ritual procedures that could be uniformly applied to the natural process of human reproduction in order to transform it conceptually into a cultural process of human production, similar to the production of any other technocratic artifact. We will now tum to specific consideration of each dilemma and of how it is successfully (more or less) resolved by the rituals developed by American obstetrics. THE CONCEPTUAL AND PROCEDURAL DILEMMAS PRESENTED TO

administration of a Vitamin K shot and antibiotic eye drops. Of course, we have chosen to develop medical instead of religious rituals to fulfill the universal social need for symbolic enculturation of the newborn because we have taken ultimate responsibility for the human body, for the perpetuation of society., and for the performance of any necessary mediation between society and the supernatural which concerns the body, away from the churches and given it to our medical system. So medical

permitted the Demerol, or maybe entailed it. And the Demerol entailed the pitocin, and the pitocin entailed the Cesarean ... "). As these two women indicate, birth rituals often function like "cranking gears": as they work to map the technocratic model onto the laboring woman's perceptions of her birth experience, they also set in motion a physiological chain of events that will make this model appear to be true and their intensified performance to be both appropriate and necessary. By the time I

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