Home    Number 4, 2017

Culture of Childbirth and Obstetrics in Contemporary Western Historiography (1975-2015)

[Rodovspomozhenie i kul’tura detorozhdeniia v noveishei zarubezhnoi istoriografii (1975-2015)]

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 13.07.2016

Accepted: 25.10.2016

About author(s)

Natalya L. Pushkareva | http://orcid.org/0000-0001-6295-3331 | pushkarev@mail.ru | Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences (32a Leninsky prospekt, Moscow, 119991, Russia)

Natalya A. Mitsyuk | http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9862-1272 | mitsyuk.natalia@gmail.com | Smolensk State Medical University (28 Krupskaya Street, Smolensk, 214019, Russia)


history of childbirth, anthropology of childbirth, historical ethnology, history of obstetrics


The authors explore the process of institutionalization of studying the history and anthropology of childbirth in contemporary Western historiography. The emergence of interdisciplinary research on the culture of childbirth in broad social and historical contexts was due to the development of the history and anthropology of gender, feminology, ethnology and sociology of childbirth, and social history of medicine. An analysis of the evolution of births (from traditional to biomedical) in the history of various communities is aimed at revealing changes in gender roles and statuses, emotional modes, and identifying the impact of medicalization and pharmacalization on the process of procreation and feelings of women in childbirth. Most researchers who have adopted social constructivist and feminist approaches, as well as modern concepts in the analysis of the culture of birth (medicalization, biopolitics, etc.), agree that progress in the history of medicine has accelerated the transition of childbirth under the absolute control of doctors, and the result has been the loss of the special maternal “women’s knowledge” and the reproduction of patriarchy.

Funding Information

This research was supported by the following institutions and grants:
Russian Foundation for Basic Research, https://doi.org/10.13039/501100002261 [grant number 2016-01-00136] [grant number 17-31-01020]


Pushkareva, N.L., and N.A. Mitsyuk. 2017. Rodovspomozhenie i kul’tura detorozhdeniia v noveishei zarubezhnoi istoriografii (1975-2015) [Culture of Childbirth and Obstetrics in Contemporary Western Historiography (1975–2015)]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 4: 147-163

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