Postdoctoral Fellow, Social Sciences and Anthropology
This is the introduction to my book-manuscipt-in-progress, Near Birth: Embodied Futures in California. The book makes the anxieties and aspirations near birth culturally legible by connecting them to broader American political tensions around gender, race,health, the environment, and neoliberal capitalism. Ideas about how babies should be born are socially and politically motivated; they moralize certain practices and naturalize ideas about what kinds of people should be involved in reproduction, and in what ways. In Near Birth, I show how caregiving relationships surrounding birth are microcosms of social concerns, including what constitutes legitimate knowledge about bodies, how gender intersects with responsibility and vulnerability, and what changes could produce a more ethical future. The book builds out from nearly three years of ethnographic fieldwork in the California Bay Area with medical practitioners, parents, and activists, including work as a doula. My findings show that what happens “near birth” is grappling with assumptions about personhood, wellbeing, nature, and the social contract. Ultimately, it argues that navigating the cultural terrain near birth is not just about making a new life, but making new selves and new worlds in ways that are deeply resonant with the contemporary American moment.
To receive the book proposal, or if you have any questions or require assistance to attend, email Stephanie Palazzo, email@example.com
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