Beware! Room B3220, 3200 Jean-Brillant (third floor)
The talk will focus on the role of translated personal narratives in the production and dissemination of knowledge within maternal and neonatal health. There is growing recognition within medical/health humanities that subjective experience can be a legitimate source of knowledge and that experiential information can complement, enhance, as well as challenge, the conventional wisdom disseminated by institutions and authorities. Birth stories are noteworthy examples of such knowledge and experience being passed on from one person to the next, one generation to the next, and one language and culture to another.
The talk will first elaborate on the importance of examining birth stories shared online and in print among parents as resources for birth preparation, and on studying them from the perspective of narrative theory, in order to examine how personal narratives are circulated with a view to challenge the deeply ingrained public narratives on women’s bodies and social position within a given society. It will then discuss a key text within the natural/positive birth movement and its Turkish translation: the American midwife Ina May Gaskin’s classic work Guide to Childbirth (2003, translated into Turkish in 2014), which includes 126 pages of stories. These are stories of births that took place at The Farm Midwifery Centre in Tennessee, in the 1970s and thus date back to a time when birth outside a hospital setting was regarded as unconventional in the United States. The ‘re-telling’ of these personal narratives some four decades later in Turkey, in a country where birth is highly medicalized and technologized, acts as a catalyst for ongoing local debates on maternal and neonatal health.