Community, Calling, and Consciousness: Southern Black Midwifery and the Politics of Health

Lecture Description

Between the 1850s and the 1950s, the changing political economy of Black birth shaped the way that African American midwives did their work. Enslaved midwives worked to deliver and preserve Black babies and mothers in the midst of the violence and commodification of chattel slavery. By the early twentieth century, Black midwives worked within a segregated and unequal health care system as the primary caregivers for pregnant and new mothers in Black southern communities. Women trained by older midwives soon encountered regulation under public health care departments that would eventually lead to the elimination of most Black lay midwives. This lecture explores the politics and spirituality of Black midwifery work, giving emphasis to the insights and consciousness Black midwives gained as they maneuvered through hierarchies of racial, class and gender inequality to practice their vocation.


African American Public Health and Disease

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