Accepted Paper:

The glocalization of childbirth in Japan and Palau  


Yasui Manami (International Research Center for Japanese Studies)

Paper short abstract:

The concept of glocalization is utilized to explore how both Japan and Palau have, in reaction to the medicalization of childbirth that has attended modernization, turned to traditional values and practices to create newly re-indigenized maternity care systems suitable for their particular needs.

Paper long abstract:

In the modern era, traditional systems of childbirth have become increasingly medicalized as childbirth moves from the home to an institution, from deliveries involving midwives to those overseen by obstetricians, and as the state becomes involved in matters of birth. This globalization of childbirth does not proceed in uniform manner in every culture, however, as the form of the state's intervention, the interactions of obstetricians and related medical personnel, and the reactions of mothers, their families, and the larger society, are all highly varied. The result can be taken as the glocalization of childbirth, which provides not only hints for reassessments in societies where the medicalization of childbirth has progressed too far, but also prospects for developments in societies where it has yet to occur.

This study utilizes the concept of glocalization to explore dimensions of childbirth in a comparison of Japan with the Republic of Palau, in Micronesia. In both societies, the influences of modernization and Western culture have resulted in the medicalization of childbirth and movements to reject the traditional roles of professional midwifes. Yet today we witness attempts in both Palau and Japan to recreate former maternity care systems of afterbirth. In Palau, the matrilineal chiefs have revalued the traditional system of the maternity care. In Japan, NPO and voluntary groups are working to help women and their babies after birth. Both societies have sufficient resources of traditional practice available for the creation of newly re-indigenized maternity care systems suitable for their particular needs.

Panel P115
The perspective of glocalization: addressing the changing society and culture under globalization