Childbirth and Authoritative Knowledge: Cross-Cultural Perspectives

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University of California Press, Aug 27, 1997 - Social Science - 505 pages
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This benchmark collection of cross-cultural essays on reproduction and childbirth extends and enriches the work of Brigitte Jordan, who helped generate and define the field of the anthropology of birth. The authors' focus on authoritative knowledge—the knowledge that counts, on the basis of which decisions are made and actions taken—highlights the vast differences between birthing systems that give authority of knowing to women and their communities and those that invest it in experts and machines.

Childbirth and Authoritative Knowledge offers first-hand ethnographic research conducted by anthropologists in sixteen different societies and cultures and includes the interdisciplinary perspectives of a social psychologist, a sociologist, an epidemiologist, a staff member of the World Health Organization, and a community midwife. Exciting directions for further research as well as pressing needs for policy guidance emerge from these illuminating explorations of authoritative knowledge about birth. This book is certain to follow Jordan's Birth in Four Cultures as the definitive volume in a rapidly expanding field.

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Authoritative Knowledge and Its Construction
An Evolutionary Perspective on Authoritative Knowledge about Birth
Fetal Ultrasound Imaging and the Production of Authoritative Knowledge in Greece
The Production of Authoritative Knowledge in American Prenatal Care
What Do Women Want? Issues of Choice Control and Class in American Pregnancy and Childbirth
Authoritative Knowledge and Birth Territories in Contemporary Japan
Ways of Knowing about Birth in Three Cultures
Authoritative Touch in Childbirth A CrossCultural Approach
Intuition as Authoritative Knowledge in Midwifery and Home Birth
Randomized Controlled Trials as Authoritative Knowledge Keeping an Ally from Becoming a Threat to North American Midwifery Practice
Confessions of a Dissident
Women come here on their own when they need to Prenatal Care Authoritative Knowledge and Maternal Health in Oaxaca
Maternal Health War and Religious Tradition Authoritative Knowledge in Pujehun District Sierra Leone
Heeding Warnings from the Canary the Whale and the Inuit A Framework for Analyzing Competing Types of Knowledge about Childbirth
An Ideal of Unassisted Birth Hunting Healing and Transformation among the Kalahari Juhoansi

Authority in Translation Finding Knowing Naming and Training Traditional Birth Attendants in Nepal
Changing Childbirth in Eastern Europe Which Systems of Authoritative Knowledge Should Prevail?
Resistance to TechnologyEnhanced Childbirth in Tuscany The Political Economy of Italian Birth

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Page 54 - Jordan explains authoritative knowledge in the following way: 'for any particular domain, several knowledge systems exist, some of which, by consensus, come to carry more weight than others, either because they explain the state of the world better for the purposes at hand (efficacy) or because they are associated with a stronger power base (structural superiority), and usually both
Page 54 - A consequence of the legitimation of one kind of knowing as authoritative is the devaluation, often the dismissal, of all other kinds of knowing.

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About the author (1997)

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).

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