Class 1: Birth Across Cultures: An Evolutionary Perspective

This opening session offers an evolutionary perspective on the cultural treatment of human childbirth as a foundation. It’s focus is on bringing a postmodern mentality that incorporates scientific evidence with traditional and professional midwifery knowledge to our cultural understanding and management of birth. In this class you will:

  • Learn birth practices across six human subsistence strategies
  • Identify premodern similarities across vast cultural differences
  • Examine the homogenizing effects of modernization
  • Explore the possibilities of postmodern mentality for improving the technocratic treatment of birth
  • Address the challenge of reincorporating traditional understandings of birth psychology

2 hours

Class 2: The Technocratic Humanistic and Holistic Paradigms of Birth and Healthcare

In this class you’ll review three major global paradigms of birth and healthcare, the technocratic, the humanistic and the holistic models.  You will learn:

  • The definition of the body in each paradigm and how that influences perspectives on health and illness
  • The power of each paradigm to influence beliefs and practices, and to evaluate your own choices in terms of your place on the spectrum as a practitioner
  • An anthropological analysis of standard obstetric procedures as rituals that enact the core values of the technocracy and give both practitioners and childbearers a sense of safety

2 hours

Class 3: The Paradigm Shift of Holistic Obstetricians: Why Some Doctors Choose to Change How They Do It

In this session you will see examples of radical change in practices in a study of 32 of Brazil’s holistic obstetricians.  You will:

  • Review the wide ranging cesarean rates among these practitioners
  • See a model of “Midwife” Obstetricians
  • Learn what motivated these changes
  • See the forms these changes took over time
  • Review current practices
  • Explore ways of working to transform a system

2 hours

Class 4: Daughter of Time: The Postmodern Midwife

In this session you will review eight global trends in Midwifery.  You will explore the definition of a post modern midwife as:

  • Informed and relativistic
  • Aware of the limitations and strengths of the biomedical system in which they practice
  • A bridge-builder – making alliances with biomedicine and building connections between traditional and professional midwives
  • A networker who attends conferences and meetings to make global connectsion and expand their model of care
  • A promoter of a global, shared culture of Midwifery
  • An agent to preserve, carry forward and teach others
  • Consciousness of Midwifery as an international, social movement aimed at humanizing maternity care
  • A teacher across traditional and professional midwives toward this goal

2 hours

Class 5: Intuition as Authoritative Knowledge in Midwifery and Birth

An overview of learning authoritative knowledge and intuition in the birth process.  In this class you will learn:

  • A definition of authoritative knowledge as theoretical framework for anthropological analysis of childbirth in various cultures.
  • About using intuition as authoritative knowledge
  • How midwives and mothers use intuition
  • The relevance for birth practitioners, childbirth educators and pre and perinatal psychologists.

2 hours

Class 6: Birth Models That Work: Standing the Test of Time

This class is a review of the 2009 collection of birth models that work, curated by:

Robbie Davis-Floyd, Phd – United States

Lesley Barclay – Australia

Betty Anne Daviss – Canada

Jan Tritten – United States

  • Both education and practice in the models
  • The criteria for identifying and characterising models that work
  • Examples representing 11 different countries
  • A view of how these models have withstood the test of time

2 hours

Robbie Davis-Floyd, PhD


Robbie Davis-Floyd PhD, Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, Rice University, and Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology, is a well-known medical anthropologist, international speaker and researcher in transformational models in childbirth, midwifery, obstetrics, and reproduction. She is author of over 80 journal articles and 24 encyclopedia articles, and of Birth as an American Rite of Passage (2003) and Ways of Knowing about Birth (2018); co-author of From Doctor to Healer: The Transformative Journey and The Power of Ritual (2016); and lead or co-editor of 15 volumes, the latest of which are Birth in Eight Cultures (2019); Birthing Models on the Human Rights Frontier: Speaking Truth to Power (2021); Sustainable Birth in Disruptive Times (2021); and the solo-edited Birthing Techno-Sapiens: Human-Technology Co-Evolution and the Future of Reproduction (2021). In process is a 3-volume anthology on The Anthropology of Obstetrics and Obstetricians: The Practice, Maintenance, and Reproduction of a Biomedical Profession, co-edited with perinatologist Ashish Premukar, and a co-edited Special Issue of Frontiers in Sociology on “The Global Impact of COVID-19 on Maternity Care Practices.”

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