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A Hmong Birth and Authoritative Knowledge: A Case study of choice, control, and the reproductive consequences of refugee status in American childbirth

Author(s): Faith Nibbs

Journal: Hmong Studies Journal
ISSN 1091-1774

Volume: 11;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: South-East Asia | Hmong | refugee | governmentality | authoritative knowledge | reproduction

One area in which anthropologists are concerned is in examining what the state of good health consists of from society to society, and what happens when practitioners of western medicine intersect with people who hold other explanations of well being. This paper explores how the western medical practices of childbirth in America are forced on Hmong refugee childbirth, and therefore, used as a continuation of governmentality, or refugee objectification. Ethnographic data is drawn from a case study of Hmong experiences with the birth process in an American hospital setting. Parallels are drawn between refugee resettlement programs which ultimately produce bodies that are objects of the state; and authoritative medical knowledge in childbirth which produces bodies that are objects of medicine. This research suggests that the American birth process becomes yet another site of refugee reprogramming and a struggle between western medicine and the refugeeā€Ÿs understanding of experience.
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