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Engendering knowledge : a study of Han Taiwanese pregnancy cultures surrounding home delivery

Sung, Jin-Shiu

Description

Home delivery in Taiwan, the birthing complex predominating in the decades prior to the 1980s, prescribes the home as the site of birth along with 'natural' childbirth attended mostly by female 'professionals'. This thesis addresses Taiwanese pregnancy cultures surrounding home delivery, and examines the intertwining historical-social processes of the production of knowledge for pregnant women, as well as the associated gender ideology at different levels. I have selected Rural Dajia Community...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorSung, Jin-Shiu
dc.date.accessioned2018-11-22T00:04:21Z
dc.date.available2018-11-22T00:04:21Z
dc.date.copyright2012
dc.identifier.otherb3095381
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/149885
dc.description.abstractHome delivery in Taiwan, the birthing complex predominating in the decades prior to the 1980s, prescribes the home as the site of birth along with 'natural' childbirth attended mostly by female 'professionals'. This thesis addresses Taiwanese pregnancy cultures surrounding home delivery, and examines the intertwining historical-social processes of the production of knowledge for pregnant women, as well as the associated gender ideology at different levels. I have selected Rural Dajia Community as my fieldwork region, and Sankang Village as the epitome of a typical rural society in Central Taiwan. This research shows that there exists both continuity and change between Taiwanese pregnancy cultures and classical Chinese discourses in images of 'women', 'illness' and 'pregnancy'. The Chinese discourse on foetus-calming (an-tai) and foetus-nurturing concerning foetal spirits (tai-sha), together have had a great influence on subsequent discourses in rural Taiwan. Accordingly, Taiwanese pregnancy needs to be explored not just within the context of culture and prevailing gender ideology but within the imagined 'cosmic order' as well. I suggest that the gendered hierarchy in the Taiwanese 'ritual complex of pregnancy' was grounded in a broader cosmic order and an associated gender ideology, in which male hong-tou priests had absolute superiority over both female spirit mediums ang-yi and male tang-ki. I further suggest that an exploration of pregnancy cultures must acknowledge the medical pluralism characteristic of Taiwan, and highlight the interaction between textual/authoritative knowledge and oral/embodied knowledge. Medical pluralism is a complex historical product, in which each tradition was informed by certain political associations: traditional Chinese medicine, Taiwanese local medicine and introduced Western biomedicine/Japanese colonial medicine. Among these, the 'modern' midwives' service in the house of birthing women and their flexibility in dealing sensitively with popular beliefs and practices, was an important episode in the negotiation of 'tradition' and 'modernity'. Moreover, medical pluralism entails power struggles with different models of gendered hierarchy. There are engendered hierarchies between male and female practitioners in both ritual and medical domains. In conversation with Charlotte Furth's foundational work, this research offers a comprehensive picture of pregnancy cultures in pre-industrialised Taiwan. As shown, the home delivery model conforms to local values of prescribing a conventional site of birth along with valuing the intimate 'cultural comfort' of the mother. However, it also reveals the tight cultural controls of a tradition misrecognised as 'natural', in terms of the practices performed and the personnel involved. For example, the practice of taishen guanzhan entails a comprehensive confinement, which reflects the imposition of Chinese patriarchal and paternal thinking on the maternal body. Moreover, the distinctive conceptions of women and pregnancy are like other 'terms' that have positional meanings within a broad cosmological order with gendered attributes. It is from these implications that, I contend, the meaning of evil spirits or sha emerged. In conversation with Emily Ahern and Arthur Wolf's work, my research examines the role and impact of this cosmology of evil on related fields of scholarship.--provided by Candidate.
dc.format.extentxvi, 370 leaves.
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.rightsAuthor retains copyright
dc.subject.lcshChildbirth at home Taiwan
dc.subject.lcshChildbirth Taiwan
dc.subject.lcshPregnancy Taiwan
dc.subject.lcshBirth customs Taiwan
dc.subject.lcshTaiwan Social life and customs
dc.titleEngendering knowledge : a study of Han Taiwanese pregnancy cultures surrounding home delivery
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.description.notesThesis (Ph.D.)--Australian National University
dc.date.issued2012
local.type.statusAccepted Version
local.contributor.affiliationAustralian National University.
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d5e74004b6c2
dc.date.updated2018-11-20T01:22:05Z
dcterms.accessRightsOpen Access
local.mintdoimint
CollectionsOpen Access Theses

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