Relocating childbirth: the politics of birth place and Aboriginal midwifery in Manitoba, Canada

Olson, Rachel Elizabeth (2013) Relocating childbirth: the politics of birth place and Aboriginal midwifery in Manitoba, Canada. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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The place of birth for First Nations is a contested issue in Canada today. For the past 30 years, the practice of removing women from communities to birth in urban centre hospitals, called maternal evacuation, has been a part of the dialogue between First Nation organisations, the Canadian state, policy makers, and Academics. Concurrent to the practice of evacuation, there is a movement to repatriate birth to First Nations through Aboriginal midwifery. This multi-sited ethnography is based on 15 months of fieldwork in Manitoba, Canada and follows the practice of evacuation and the establishment of an Aboriginal midwifery practice in one northern First Nation community. The ethnography reveals that both evacuation and returning birth is a complex, multi-layered negotiation of risk between various actors. From women and their families, doctors and nurses, midwives and other health professionals: the management of risk is at the forefront of this discussion. This study takes into account how risk is imagined, created and targeted in the practice of maternity care for First Nations in Manitoba. The concept of risk and risk management takes on multiple forms as the practice of evacuation moves from the community to the urban centre, from federal land to provincial land, from the hospital to the board room. Through participation observation in the places of birth and interviews with the range of actors involved in maternity care for First Nations, this ethnography reveals the messiness of the concept of risk, and identifies where these actors collude and conflict on the topic of evacuation and repatriation. The study also traces how the state has co-opted the language of risk on all sides of this debate and how the bodies of the First Nations mother and midwife becomes sites in which these contestations over risk, responsibility, knowledge and safety occur.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology > GN301 Ethnology. Social and cultural anthropology
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics > RG0500 Obstetrics > RG0940 Maternal care. Prenatal care services
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2013 11:07
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2015 12:07

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