Birth as an American Rite of Passage  book cover
1st Edition

Birth as an American Rite of Passage

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after May 6, 2022
ISBN 9780367431297
May 6, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
456 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

USD $44.95

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Book Description

This classic book, first published in 1992 and again in 2003, has inspired three generations of childbearing people, birth activists and researchers, and birth practitioners—midwives, doulas, nurses, and obstetricians—to take a fresh look at the "standard procedures" that are routinely used to "manage" American childbirth. It was the first book to identify these non-evidence-based obstetric interventions as rituals that enact and transmit the core values of the American technocracy, thereby answering the pressing question of why these interventions continue to be performed despite all evidence to the contrary. This third edition brings together Davis-Floyd's insights into the intense ritualization of labor and birth and the technocratic, humanistic, and holistic models of birth with new data collected in recent years.

Table of Contents

Author‘s Note about the Cover Images, Dedication, Figure, Tables, Acknowledgments, Preface to the Third Edition, Introduction: Birth as a Rite of Passage, 1. Ritual and Rite, 2. The Stages of Matrescence: The Pregnancy/Childbirth/Postpartum Rite of Passage, 3. The Industrial and Technocratic Models of Birth and Health Care, 4. The Humanistic Model of Birth and Health Care, 5. Birth Messages in the Hospital, 6. How the Messages Are Received: The Spectrum of Response, 7. Scars into Stars: The Reinterpretation of the Childbirth Experience, 8. The Holistic Model of Birth and Health Care, 9. Birth Messages at Home: Homebirth as Holistic Ideology in Action,10. Technocracy in Birth and Life: Some Ritual and Political Implications for the Future, 11. Holism in Birth and Life: Some Ritual and Political Implications for the Future, Conclusion: Birth as an American Rite of Passage, References, Index

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Robbie Davis-Floyd PhD, Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, Rice University, Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology, is a well-known medical/interpretive/reproductive anthropologist, international speaker, and researcher in transformational models in childbirth, midwifery, obstetrics, and reproduction. She is author of over 80 journal articles and 24 encyclopedia articles, and of Birth as an American Rite of Passage (1992, 2003, 2022) and Ways of Knowing about Birth: Mothers, Midwives, Medicine, and Birth Activism (2018); and coauthor of From Doctor to Healer: The Transformative Journey (1998), The Power of Ritual (2016), and Ritual: What It Is, How It Works, and Why (2022). She is also lead or co-editor of 16 collections, including the award-winning Childbirth and Authoritative Knowledge: Cross-Cultural Perspectives with Carolyn Sargent (1997) and Cyborg Babies: From Techno-Sex to Techno-Tots with Joseph Dumit (1998); the "seminal" Birth Models That Work with Lesley Barclay, Betty-Anne Daviss, and Jan Tritten (2009); Birth in Eight Cultures with Melissa Cheyney (2019); Birthing Models on the Human Rights Frontier: Speaking Truth to Power, lead-edited by Betty-Anne Daviss (2021); Sustainable Birth in Disruptive Times, lead-edited by Kim Gutschow and co-edited by Betty-Anne Daviss (2021); the solo-edited Birthing Techno-Sapiens: Human-Technology Co-Evolution and the Future of Reproduction (2021); and a co-edited, with Kim Gutschow, Special Issue of Frontiers in Sociology on The Global Impact of COVID-19 on Maternity Care Practices (2021). In process is a 3-volume anthology on The Anthropology of Obstetrics and Obstetricians: The Practice, Maintenance, and Reproduction of a Biomedical Profession, co-edited with perinatologist Ashish Premkumar.

Over the past 30 years, Robbie has given over 1000 talks at universities and childbirth, midwifery, and obstetric conferences. She currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Council on Anthropology and Reproduction and on the Board of the International MotherBaby Childbirth Organization (IMBCO), in which capacity she wordsmithed the International Childbirth Initiative (ICI): 12 Steps to Safe and Respectful MotherBaby-Family Maternity Care, available at www.ICIchildbirth,org. She is also Lead Editor for the Routledge Book Series Social Science Perspectives on Childbirth and Reproduction. Many of her published articles are freely available on her website She can be reached at [email protected]


"A magnificent contribution to our understanding of birthing in this country."

--Emily Martin, author of The Woman in the Body

"Davis-Floyd is a respectful listener who has encouraged her subjects to speak honestly about a complex experience. Consequently, even skeptical readers of the fascinating stories she has gathered should be prompted to reflect on the meaning of their own or their partners' experience of birth…I admire, without reservation, the generous, critical, passionate spirit that animates this book." –Sara Ruddick, New York Times Book Review

"Davis-Floyd has done an excellent job of demonstrating the linkages between American core values concerning technology and scientific expertise and prevailing obstetric practices. I especially value her use of women's voices to convey the essence of their delivery experiences."

--Carolyn Sargent, author of Maternity, Medicine, and Power