"Rising Maternal Mortality in the US: Naturalized Technologies and Embodied Inequalities"
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The WSU Humanities Center invites faculty, students, staff, and the community to a Brown Bag talk given by Kathleen Hanlon-Lundberg (PTF, Anthropology & Public Health) on the topic of "Rising Maternal Mortality in the US: Naturalized Technologies and Embodied Inequalities"
Abstract: Maternal survival and well-being are essential aspects of community health. Both pregnancy-related maternal conditions consequent to physical illness and access to care (hemorrhage, hypertension, sepsis, embolic disease) and pregnancy-associated conditions that are more closely aligned with social factors (homicide, suicide, motor vehicle accidents, overdose) contribute to maternal mortality. Through the twentieth century, biomedical advances including anesthesia, transfusion technologies and antibiotics improved the safety of birth, including those by cesarean. Globally, maternal death rates fell dramatically through the early part of this century. Counter to this ongoing trend, maternal mortality in the US is increasing. The “obstetrical dilemma”, first posed by Washburn in 1960, describes evolutionary trade-offs in pelvic structure between birthing relatively large neonates and pelvic stability necessary for bipedal locomotion. This equation is further complicated by changing biometric physicalities, shifting ideals of sexuality and motherhood, bodily control and conduct, and by ambivalence toward reproductive technologies which have largely become naturalized into modern constructs of pregnancy and birth. Maternal mortality illustrates how bodies, historically and currently subject to stratified socio-economic and environmental stressors, differentially experience contemporary obstetric dilemmas in health and disease, life and death.
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