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Childbirth and Authoritative Knowledge: Cross-Cultural Perspectives Paperback – August 27, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0520207851 ISBN-10: 0520207858 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 505 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (August 27, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520207858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520207851
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #891,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robbie Davis-Floyd, Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas, is author of Birth as an American Rite of Passage (California, 1992) and co-editor of Cyborg Babies: From Techno-Sex to Techno-Tots (1997). Carolyn F. Sargent, Professor of Anthropology and Director of Women's Studies at Southern Methodist University, is author of Maternity, Medicine, and Power: Reproductive Decisions in Urban Benin (California, 1989) and coeditor of Medical Anthropology: Contemporary Theory and Method (1996).

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Gardner on October 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is an amazing collection of medical anthropoligical qualitative observational studies of pregnancy and birth in many cultures of the world. The caveat of exploration of the book is to critically compare how things got to be this way in our US technological/mechanical system of birthing, and to compare this to other cultural systems. The fallicy of the safety of hospital birth is examined as well as why physicians have (what I believe is) inappropriate status and power in decision making during pregnancy and birth. Researchers describe how culture and women themselves have contributed to their own relinquishment of control over their bodies for what is supposed to be a normal physiological event with the capacity for profound meaning in family life. This book is not for the faint of heart. It will challenge all of your assumptions about how we blindly enter the arena of physican dominated decision making in birth, letting those with technological knowledge hook us up to machines and gadgets, strip us of our clothing and identity, and then tell us how our bodies are functioning based on what machines and those with power say, not what women and families say. Data will prove how midwives can deliver safer (or safer) and sensitive care while respecting womens bodies and the status of her innate knowledge during labor and birth. I highly recommend this book to childbirth educators, midwives, OB nurses, obstetricians, and consumers who want to take back power and control over their pregnancy and birth experience. However, you will see that this cannot be easily done in a hospital setting, and almost impossible with a physician as the care provider. This may sound like I am bashing doctors - this cannot be further from the truth.Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Courtney L. Lewis on March 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
Inspired by birth anthropologist Brigitte Jordan (author of Birth in Four Cultures), editors Davis-Floyd and Sargent have collection of articles written by scientists studying birth all over the world who have taken Jordan's concept of authoritative knowledge and applied it to myriad studies. Authoritative knowledge refers to the dominant accepted theory (usually the Western medical tradition and dependent on technology) and how its acceptance translates into customs and practices surrounding birth.
Many of the studies were very easy to read and the articles that "told the tale" of births in Greece, Mexico, and Sierra Leone were especially good. A surprise for me was how much I enjoyed Marsden Wagner's article - a doctor and public health official by training, Wagner was appointed the head of the World Health Organization's Maternal and Child Health Department. As he studied the efficacy of midwifery techniques the world over, Wagner began publishing WHO reports recommending the adoption of midwifery systems and a rejection of technology-oriented birth. His story of how the Western medical community continually attempt to disparge and undermine his work (my words as his are more understanding of the difficulty of change) is an excellent overview of the power of medical professionals.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By shemandra1@yahoo.com on September 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a book that requires concentration and focus. I am addressing this book as a lay person who has an interest in understanding and assisting women who choose an alternative way to give birth. Thank you
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeri K. Gunderson on November 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book!!! Broadens one's perspectives . Confirms others. Met my study needs. I really love knowing how people put their worlds together.
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More About the Author

Robbie Davis-Floyd PhD, Senior Research Fellow, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Texas Austin and Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology, is a medical anthropologist specializing in the anthropology of reproduction. An international speaker and researcher, she is author of over 80 articles and of Birth as an American Rite of Passage (1992, 2004); coauthor of From Doctor to Healer: The Transformative Journey (1998); and coeditor of eight collections, including Childbirth and Authoritative Knowledge: Cross-Cultural Perspectives (1997); Cyborg Babies: From Techno-Sex to Techno-Tots (1998); and Mainstreaming Midwives: The Politics of Change (2006). Her latest collection is Birth Models That Work, which highlights optimal models of birth care around the world. Her research on global trends and transformations in childbirth, obstetrics, and midwifery is ongoing. Robbie speaks frequently at national and international childbirth, obstetrical, and midwifery conferences around the world. She currently serves as Editor for the International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative (IMBCI): 10 Steps to Optimal Maternity Care (www.imbci.org), Board Member of the International MotherBaby Childbirth Organization (IMBCO), and Senior Advisor to the Council on Anthropology and Reproduction. Her email is davis-floyd@mail.utexas.edu.

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