By Lauren Fordyce, Aminata Maraesa
Vibrant ethnographies of reproductive threat and accountability that talk to the conflicts among pregnant ladies and moms and state-sanctioned biomedicine.
As Carole Browner explains in her foreword: "These chapters compellingly display that even supposing we anthropologists are inclined to converse of biomedicine in hegemonic phrases, actually its penetration is sort of variable and sometimes ambivalently met. . . . possibility, replica, and Narratives of expertise sheds new mild on a troubling center point of medicalization tactics, which at the same time render pregnant ladies extra docile matters at the same time they're impelled to actively have interaction with biomedicalized prenatal care regimes. . . . We additionally see consummate skill during which states search to consolidate strength within the reproductive realm is thru growth of the biomedical inspiration of danger. This serious commentary emerges time and again during this collection."
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Extra resources for Risk, Reproduction and Narratives of Experience
Oxytocin is a hormone naturally produced during labor that strengthens uterine contractions, and a synthetic analog of oxytocin can be administered to facilitate birth. Injections of oxytocin are widely used by many comadronas with whom I worked to induce or speed labor and delivery, often at the request of the laboring woman and her family, despite cautions against this practice in TBA training sessions because of the difficulties in dosing. While no comadrona Conceiving Risk in K’iche’ Maya Reproduction will admit to using oxytocin herself, many I interviewed were more than willing to indict other comadronas.
For the NGO worker, however, it is more pervasive, a field to be navigated rather than a threat encountered. Moreover, physicians are removed from the universe of blame unless they fail in their intervention in a pathological pregnancy. But from the perspective of the NGO worker, blame extends in all directions, making lack of prenatal care a risk factor for poor pregnancy outcome. This second perspective resonates strongly with Agamben’s (1998) state of exception, in which a condition of constant emergency allows the powers that be to suspend rights and exert total control—a mechanism to import the older sovereign rules into modern structures of power.
2 Even while they enthusiastically seek what they view as a modern, technologically advanced model of prenatal care (see Howes-Mischel, this volume; cf. Smith-Oka, this volume), they demonstrate some immunity to the view commonly held by providers: that pregnancy and childbirth are inherently risky and to be successful require the management of skilled medical personnel and assessment and mediation of risk factors. The rise in unfavorable birth outcomes with longer residence in or nativity in the United States may be not a biological problem but an epistemological one, 37 38 Risk, Reproduction, and Narratives of Experience in which women are slowly convinced of the riskiness of their own reproduction and come to behave in ways that erode their cultural advantage.