African American Midwifery in the South: Dialogues of Birth, by Gertrude Jacinta Fraser

By Gertrude Jacinta Fraser

Beginning on the flip of the century, so much African American midwives within the South have been steadily excluded from reproductive future health care. Gertrude Fraser exhibits how physicians, public healthiness body of workers, and kingdom legislators fixed a crusade ostensibly to enhance maternal and boy or girl healthiness, specially in rural parts. They introduced conventional midwives below the keep watch over of a supervisory physique, and finally eradicated them. within the writings and courses produced by means of those physicians and public wellbeing and fitness officers, Fraser unearths a universe of principles approximately race, gender, the connection of medication to society, and the prestige of the South within the nationwide political and social economies. Fraser additionally reviews this event via dialogues of reminiscence. She interviews participants of a rural Virginia African American neighborhood that integrated not only retired midwives and their descendants, yet someone who lived via this modification in scientific care--especially the ladies who gave beginning at domestic attended via a midwife. She compares those narrations to these in modern clinical journals and public health and wellbeing fabrics, researching contradictions and ambivalence: was once the midwife a determine of disgrace or satisfaction? How did one distance oneself from what was once now thought of "superstitious" or "backward" and whilst recognize and take pleasure within the former unquestioned authority of those ideals and practices? In a tremendous contribution to African American reports and anthropology, African American Midwifery within the South brings new voices to the discourse at the hidden global of midwives and birthing.

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Additional info for African American Midwifery in the South: Dialogues of Birth, Race, and Memory

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I The Body Politic 1 Introduction Located in the upper South, Virginia has its own history of engagement with African American midwifery. The full weight of the argument developed in Part I is oriented toward the emergence of public health programs and the discourses of race, gender, and society in that setting. Using Virginia as a particular case, I make a broader set of claims about the relevance of the analytic perspective developed here for the South as a whole. The core of that analysis depends on my reading of the rhetoric and structure of race as reflected in the public health and medical literature.

No matter how powerful by virtue of her personality and involvement in the most potent stages of the life cycle, the southern midwife ministered to bodies that were extremely vulnerable. They were weakened by the shared structural conditions of ill health, racism, political neglect, and economic distress. Across the South, this social and bodily vulnerability provides the comparative frame for a claim to a regional perspective. The second factor is that in most southern states there existed an underlying ambivalence about how much, if any, financial resources should be directed at African American communities.

In this variation, the post–Sheppard-Towner midwife is a transitional figure, successfully retooled to work in concert with biomedicine. Those who failed to make that transition remain in the shadows, without official permits to practice, bereft of ties to medical personnel to which clients may be referred and stuck in the realm of folk practice (Ladd-Taylor 1988; Smith 1994; Roberts and Reeb 1994; Schaffer 1991; Bell 1993). The facts of midwifery’s persistence and even growth between 1930 and 1950 are uncontestable.

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