Ways of Knowing about Birth: Mothers, Midwives, Medicine, and Birth Activism by Robbie  Davis-Floyd
438 pages, $42.95 list
1-4786-3362-X
978-1-4786-3362-4
eBook availability
Ways of Knowing about Birth
Mothers, Midwives, Medicine, and Birth Activism
There is no other living scholar with Davis-Floyd’s solid roots, activism, and scholarly achievements on the combined subjects of childbirth, midwifery, obstetrics, and medicine. Ways of Knowing about Birth brings together an astounding array of her most popular and essential works, all updated for this volume, spanning over three decades of research and writing from the perspectives of cultural, medical, and symbolic anthropology.

The 16 essays capture Robbie Davis-Floyd’s unique voice, which brims with wisdom, compassion, and deep understanding. Intentionally cast as stand-alone pieces, the chapters offer the ultimate in classroom flexibility and include discussion questions and recommended films.
Reviews
“A compelling collection of papers . . . Robbie Davis-Floyd created a subfield in medical anthropology and raised everyone’s consciousness.” — Laura McCloskey, Indiana University

“Robbie Davis-Floyd is the revered godmother for the anthropology of birth.” — Alma Gottlieb, co-editor of A World of Babies: Imagined Childcare Guides for Eight Societies

“Davis-Floyd is the ‘midwife’s midwife,’ constantly engaging us in challenging conversations, critiquing dominant medical childbirth practices, and encouraging us, as midwifery students, practitioners, and researchers to do our best and stay passionate.” — Lisa Kane Low, President, American College of Nurse-Midwives (from the Foreword)
Table of Contents
Part One: RITUAL, PARADIGMS, MEDICINE, AND MOTHERS

1. The Technocratic, Humanistic, and Holistic Paradigms of Birth and Health Care
The 12 Tenets of the Technocratic Model of Medicine and Birth / The 12 Tenets of the Humanistic Model of Medicine and Birth / The 12 Tenets of the Holistic Model of Medicine and Birth / Stratified Holism and the Limitations of a Focus on the Individual / Functional Medicine: A Brief Note / The Importance of Ideology: Why Paradigms Matter

2. The Rituals of Hospital Birth: Enacting and Transmitting the Technocratic Model
Rites of Passage / The Characteristics of Ritual and Obstetric "Routines": Hospital Birth as a Technocratic Rite of Passage / Mutilation and Prosthesis: The One-Two Punch of Technocratic Birth / Conclusion: Ritual Socialization

3. The Technocratic Body and the Organic Body: Hegemony and Hersey in Women's Birth Choices
Women's Agency in Birth: Body Image as Microcosmic Mirror of Worldview / Women's Body Models: Technocratic and Holistic / Women's Perceptions of the Technocratic and Holistic Models of Birth and the Body Compared / Body Image as a Template for the Future?

4. Medical Training as Technocratic Institution
Ritual and Rite in Medical Training / Psychological Transformation in Medical School and Residency: Medical Training and Cognitive Narrowing / Trends in Medical Education: "Walking between the Worlds" / Conclusion: Hope for the Future?

5. The Paradigm Shift of Humanistic and Holistic Obstetricians: The "Good Guys and Girls" of Brazil (with Eugenia Georges)
Humanizing Self and Practice: Becoming a "Good Guy or Girl" / The Process of Transformation / Conclusion: The Obstetric Backlash and Positive Change

Part Two: MIDWIVES, CULTURE, IDEOLOGIES, AND BIRTH

6. American Midwifery: A Brief Anthropological Overview
Why I Wrote This Chapter: A Public Lack of Understanding of the Complexities of American Midwifery / A Short History of American Midwifery / The Development and Growth of Nurse-Midwifery / The Lay Midwifery Movement and the Creation of the CPM / Two Direct-Entry Certifications: The Creation of the CM / National Recognition: Certification, Accreditation, and the ICM Standards / Midwifery Differences and Commonalities: Working towards a More Unified Future? / Appendix: The Collaborative Work of US MERA (Ida Darragh)

7. Intuition as Authoritative Knowledge in Midwifery and Homebirth (with Elizabeth Davis)
On the Nature of Intuition: Theoretical Perspectives / Background and Context: Midwifery as Radical Cultural Critique / Methods and Collaboration: How an Anthropologist and a Midwife Came to Co-Create This Study / Midwives and Intuition / Normalizing Uniqueness / Conclusion: The "Connective Dance" / Appendix: Items that a Typical American Homebirth Midwife Carries with Her to a Homebirth

8. Daughter of Time: The Postmodern Midwife (with Etsuko Matsuoka, Holly Horan, Bonnie Ruder, and Courtney L. Everson)
The Transnational Nature of Midwifery Knowledge: A Contemporary Exemplar / Back to the Future: Premodern, Modern, and Postmodern / Informed Relativism: The Characteristics of the Postmodern Midwife / A Short Story: How I Came to Identify and Understand "The Postmodern Midwife" / Postmodern Traditional Midwives / Postmodern Professional Midwives / Professional vs. Traditional Midwives: The Ramifications of Definition / Conclusion: Daughters of the Past Redefining Themselves in the Present

9. Mutual Accommodation or Biomedical Hegemony? A Brief Anthropological Overview of Global Issues in Midwifery
A Dysfunctional Maternity Care System / Achieving Functionality: Examples of Mutual Accommodation / Biomedical Hegemony: Examples of Its Consequences / "Midwifery Hegemony": What Happens When Professional Midwives Buy into the Biomedical Hierarchy? / Conclusion: Midwives and the Possible Future

10. Homebirth Emergencies in the US and Mexico: The Trouble with Transport
Articulation and Authoritative Knowledge: Biopower Meets the Homebirth Midwife / Methodology: Why and How I Chose to Study Midwives' Transport Stories / Background and Context: Obstetrics and Midwifery in the US and Mexico / Midwives' Transport Stories / Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Transport: Biomedicine as the Ultimate Recourse and the Ultimate Enemy / Transport Epilogue 2017: Developing Smooth and Seamless Articulations in the United States

11. The Midwifery Model of Care: Anthropological Perspectives
The Importance of Ideology: What's in a Name? / The Midwifery (Humanistic-Holistic) Model of Care / Conclusion: The Model behind the Model

12. Renegade Midwives: Assets or Liabilities? (with Christine Barbara Johnson)
Renegade Midwives' Stories / Stories from Women Who Chose to Give Birth with Renegade Midwives / Normalizing Uniqueness: How Far Should It Go? / Hospital Midwives as Renegades / Robbie's Story and the Renegade Dilemma / Results and Consequences: The Renegade Spectrum / The Role of the Stranger / Living into the Answers

Part Three: ANTHROPOLOGY AND BIRTH ACTIVISM

13. Anthropology and Birth Activism: What Do We Know?
Penny's Toast / The Fault Line / Evidence vs. Practice / Ethnography as Activism / High Art to Birth Activists / Holding Spaces for Informed Choice

14. Working with Anthropology in Policy and Practice: An Activist's Experiences
Introduction: My Choices to Study Birth and Midwives, and to Become a Birth Activist and Midwifery Advocate / Participant-Observation and Activism in the American Midwifery Movement: Conducting Political Ethnography / My Greatest Challenge as a Midwifery Ethnographer / Participant-Observation and Activism in the Birth Movement at the International Level / Forging My Path and Passing on Gitti's Mantle: An Ongoing Journey

15. Creating the International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative (IMBCI): Anthropologically Informed Activism
The Role of CIMS and the Creation of the IMBCI / The MotherBaby, and Women's Rights as Human Rights / IMBCO's Ongoing Work / The FIGO Initiative and a Possible Merger with the IMBCI / Conclusion: The Educational and Instrumental Goals of the IMBCI

Epilogue: Inner Space and Outer Space as Cyberspace? Technocratizing Womb and World
The Myth of Technological Transcendence / A Vision for Commercializing Outer Space: The SATWG Story / Cyborg Birth and a Holistic Story / Limitless Possibilities

Appendix: Applying Anthropology: What You Can Learn from This Book to Help You Achieve the Birth You Want