We invite speakers to discuss reproduction and birth as creative phenomena, focusing on the language, actions and spaces where they converge with broader social and ecological contexts and tensions.
Birth is many things: a physiological process, a medicalised ritual and a site of transformation and contestation. There is a multiplicity of meanings attached to reproduction and birth, and within and between these meanings are capacities for celebration, conflict and control. Public health and its related discourses are continuously reshaped and suffused with the 'best' way to give birth and to care for mothers. Despite the centrality of maternal health in medical, political and international institutions, the bodies and experiences of women remain on the periphery of these structures. How we talk about and enact birth, and where it takes place reflect both local and global health inequalities and reveal to what extent alterity is constrained by social forms and medical systems. In this panel, we explore these issues and invite speakers to discuss reproduction and birth as creative phenomena, focusing on the language, actions and spaces where they converge with broader social and ecological contexts and tensions. We welcome papers addressing some of the following questions: How do reproductive and birth practices function as embodied, creative actions? How do new medical and assisted reproductive technologies continue to subvert previous notions of the birthing body? What are the implications of the increasing emphasis on individualised care and informed choice in maternal health? What can fathers' experiences add to our understanding of imagination and embodiment, particularly before and during birth? Is it possible to creatively intervene to improve maternal-infant health and how could anthropologists play a role in these developments?