Birth and the postpartum in Northeast Thailand: Contesting modernity and tradition

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Based upon ethnographic research in Northeast Thailand, this paper explores birthing and postpartum practice and discourses of modernity and tradition in a rural village. Although the majority of village women give birth in a hospital, they follow traditional postpartum practice within the village. Postpartum practice is both a health practice understood to ensure their strength and well-being, and a rite of passage that asserts their ethnic and female identity. The village is a social space in which the definitions and practices imposed by the dominant biomedical discourse do not prevail. In birthing and the postpartum period, women move between the spatially separated domains of the hospital and the home and in doing so move between discursive frameworks: the first where discourses of biomedicine and state development prevail and the second where community discourses and meanings dominate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-242
Number of pages28
JournalMedical Anthropology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Childbirth
  • Pluralism
  • Postpartum
  • TBAs
  • Thailand

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