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  • Mothers for the Nation

    Nicole Elizabeth Barnes

    Chapter from the book: Barnes, N. 2018. Intimate Communities: Wartime Healthcare and the Birth of Modern China, 1937–1945.


    Wartime China had high rates of infant and maternal death. Childbirth and midwifery therefore played key roles in the wartime formulation of women as creators of the new nation and sponsors of its postwar future, and health officials committed precious resources to building maternal and child health facilities throughout Sichuan. This expansion of infrastructure and the ideological commitment to healthy childbirth granted young midwives who were trained in sterile techniques greater access to women’s bodies and homes; midwives therefore played a central role in expanding state power. The spread of aseptic midwifery also challenged the social power of traditional midwives and moved delivery from the home to the clinic, furthering the medicalization of childbirth and the dominance of biomedical over traditional practices.

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    Barnes, N. 2018. Mothers for the Nation. In: Barnes, N, Intimate Communities. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.59.f

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    Published on Oct. 23, 2018


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