Features

Funny, Awkward, Tender, Focused: Drawing Bodies

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Drawings from my research on childbirth in California created an opportunity for sharing reflections on fieldwork and “seeing.” Birth is a highly mediated experience, with ubiquitous images of happy, beautiful, peaceful babies and mammas crowding everything from packaging and magazines to instructional literature and advertisements for birth professionals. This birth imagery has a minor counterpart from the activist community that …

Features

Risk and utility in the governance of diagnostic testing: the case of genetic screening, 1960 to the present

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Routine collection of blood samples from neonates – often using so-called Guthrie cards (pictured) – began in the 1960s when a number of North American and European countries set up screening programmes for phenylketonuria, a rare single-gene disorder which leads to developmental delays and early death if untreated. Such programmes have since been introduced in many other countries around the …

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Texting Like A State: mHealth and the first thousand days in South Africa

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What does making a new life look like from the perspective of a mobile phone?

For the phone of a woman using the public health care system in Cape Town, South Africa, in all likelihood involves a series of WhatsApp conversations with a partner, with friends and kin. The phone helps with “Googling” questions about health and childcare, maybe about …

Features

‘On paper’ and ‘having papers’: migrants navigating medical xenophobia and obstetric rights in South Africa

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Chekero met Pauline at a local pharmacy in Giyani, a small town in the north-east of the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The area is best known to foreigners as being close to the famous Kruger National Park, a tourist hotspot famous for ‘the Big Five’ game to which it is home. It is also an important receiving town for

Features

‘A bit of a compromise’: Coming to terms with an emergency caesarean section

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During the midwife-hosted antenatal class Cath attended in a private hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, where she would eventually give birth, pregnant women were encouraged to name the kind of birth they wanted. They were presented with three options: “natural all the way with no medication”, “natural but open to medication”, or “elective caesarean”. The ‘choice’ women were expected …

Features

Infant Topography: Baby Body Mapping in Maphisa, Zimbabwe

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baby-body-map

Nomsa, her sixteen month old son Nathi and I met early one morning at the entrance to the open cast mine in Mafuyana, Southern Matabeleland, Zimbabwe. Nathi safely secured on her back, a shovel in one hand and a plastic bag with bread and water in the other, Nomsa hurried me along: “We must walk quickly, the earlier I start …