Current Institutional Affiliation
Visiting Assistant Professor, Anthropology, DePaul University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1997
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Florida
Women and Surgical Birth in Merida, Yucatan

This study explores the interaction between global medical trends in childbirth and the local shaping of those processes through a study of surgical birth in Merida, Yucatan, MEXICO. Cesarean rates have been increasing worldwide and some of the highest rates have been found in Latin America. Most of the research, however, has been conducted in Europe and the United States. The exception to this is Brazil, where a solid base of information has been published and disseminated to the North American medical and social science journals. The cesarean is generally thought about as a life-saving medical procedure and medical research is conducted to improve maternal and infant outcomes. Recent medical work in Mexico calls attention to the increased risk for women and their infants and the high institutional costs of the cesarean and calls for research which examines the social factors involved in the unnecessarily high rates of surgical birth. I will examine how the surgery is differentially interpreted by women at various points in the social landscape of Merida, Yucatan. This is a qualitative research project that pays careful attention to the relationship between the discourses of the body, health, motherhood and sexuality and the experience of surgical childbirth. I will compare and contrast my findings with the studies in U.S., Europe and to the research in Brazil.