While the process of childbirth is, in some sense, everywhere the same, it is also everywhere different in that each culture has produced a birthing system that is strikingly dissimilar from the others. Based on her fieldwork in the United States, Sweden, Holland, and Yucatan, Jordan develops a framework for the discussion and investigation of different birthing systems. Illustrated with useful examples and lively anecdotes from Jordan's own fieldwork, the Fourth Edition of this innovative comparative ethnography brings the reader to a deeper understanding of childbirth as a culturally grounded, biosocially mediated, and interactionally achieved event.
Titles of related interest also from Waveland Press: Davis-Floyd, Ways of Knowing about Birth: Mothers, Midwives, Medicine, and Birth Activism (ISBN 9781478633624); Gabriel, Touching Bellies, Touching Lives: Midwives of Southern Mexico Tell Their Stories (ISBN 9781478627104); and Holloway, Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali (ISBN 9781577664352).
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Title of related interest also from Waveland Press: Holloway, Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali (ISBN 9781577664352).Review:
"As revised and expanded, this edition is a multilayered resource volume for students of birthing practices in the West and internationally. The original text is well enough preserved to enable those who have not read it to appreciate Jordan's pioneering insights. The three added chapters are a thought- provoking continuation of some themes initially explored in the original work, and introduce readers to Jordan's current research on learning, technology, and the social nature of knowledge." -- Birth, Vol. 21, No. 2, June 1994
"We are fortunate to have this classic book back in print again. Since publication of the first edition in 1978, many subsequent anthropological studies have built up a corpus of literature on a topic about which little had previously been written. Returning to Birth in Four Cultures in this fourth edition, one is reminded how wise and generous the author is. She raises the fundamental issues in reproductive health care and gender justice. This is not another doctor-bashing book, but a positive work with insights from many points of view, in the best anthropological tradition." --Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 1, March 1996
"When this book first appeared in 1978 it was a small volume that carried great weight in the medical anthropological profession, and for applied anthropologists as well. It received the first Margaret Mead Award which was designed to honor a young (under 40) anthropologist whose book was deemed to have an applied impact on practice beyond the confines of traditional academic anthropology. This reviewer must admit that, at the time, it seemed to be a big furor over a matter of little earthshaking importance--women had been birthing for countless millennia and the amount of variation possible in the process seemed minuscule. Although I am not ashamed of my earlier view, this fourth edition of what is now a classic work has led me to a diametrically opposite point of view. As with any work that passes through many editions, the book has become more substantial with time--now running to 235 pages. But the manner of updating chosen here allows the reader to be actively aware of the changes in delivery practice in each of the areas under study. Robbie Davis-Floyd has chosen to insert clearly marked updates which highlight the changes in practice over the 15-year period since the publication of the first edition. This is a splendid new edition, a growing contribution to the anthropology of birth, and one which can be read with profit by any who have concerns with the cross-cultural practice of medicine, specifically of obstetrics, as well as by those whose interests are less narrowly defined." --Journal of Biosocial Sciences, Vol. 29, April 1997
"I am using this as part of my Cultures, Pregnancy and Birth class as it is still the seminal volume in cross-cultural studies of birth." --Erica Gibson, University of South Carolina
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