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Reading birth and death

Reading birth and death

Jo Murphy-Lawless

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The issue of who should control childbirth remains one of the outstanding conflicts for the women's movement, despite almost four decades of campaigning for change. It's continuing relevance suggests that the problem of exercising choice and personal agency remains a political struggle for each woman who faces an institutional system of maternity care which demands compliance with its norms. Since the eighteenth century, obstetric discourse has had a decisive impact on the experiences of birth in countless women's lives.

Using the historical records and writings of Irish doctors and maternity hospitals, this book analyses the core beliefs and practices of obstetric science. These beliefs reveal a central theme of women's incompetence in birth and traces how such a radically gendered account has been so detrimental to women.

The author argues that the problem of personal agency which women face stems directly from the way the science has worked. In exploring the currently important thesis of discourse and power in relation to scientific thinking, Reading Birth and Death makes an important contribution to the fields of obstetrics, midwifery, childbirth, education, sociology of the body, cultural studies and women's studies. Jo Mulphy-Lawless, a sociologist, feminist and activist in the childbirth movement for twenty-five years, is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Women's Studies, Trinity College, Dublin.

She is on the Editorial Advisory Board of the international journal, Reproductive Health Matters. Her work on childbirth has been published in, among others, International Women's Studies Foru and the Canadian Journal of Irish Studies.

Additional Information

Author Jo Murphy-Lawless
Publisher Cork University Press
Publication date 12 Nov 1998
Format Hardback
ISBN/EAN 9781859181768

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