Session at 1995 AAS Conference

Wed, 18 May 1994 16:28:04 +1000

Birthing Practices in South Asia [Provisional Title]
Panel for AAS Meeting, Washington, D.C, April 6th to 9th 1995

The limited range of studies so far available (mainly from North India and
Bangladesh) suggests that South Asia forms a distinct cultural region with
respect to birthing practices. Specific features include a high degree of concern
with pollution; traditional birth attendants (dai etc) of low caste or status,
whose primary role is to remove pollution rather than aid the birth process
itself; a high level of concern with supernatural danger; little or no antenatal
care; limited postnatal care for mother and child. This situation poses
problems for strategies which aim to improve birthing practices, maternal and
child health by working through traditional birth attendants. Papers are invited
which support, challenge or modify this account. Papers dealing with adjoining
regions (e.g. peoples in Nepal, Tibet) and with other aspects of reproductive
health are also welcome.

. . . . . . . . .

We are hoping to present a panel at the 1995 Association of Asian
Studies Annual Convention (Washington, D.C., April 6th to 9th, 1995) on the
above topic. The intention is that the papers from the panel, along with other
papers from contributors not able to attend the panel, form the basis of a
book. Potential contributors are invited for the panel (as paper-giver or
discussant, preferably the former) and for the book.

We are both social anthropologists, currently working at the
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Newcastle,
Australia. Santi Rozario has carried out research on reproductive health in
Bangladesh and written two papers on Bangladeshi village birthing practices (
"The Dai and the Doctor: Discourses on Women's Reproductive Health in
Rural Bangladesh," and "Boundary as Predicament: The Case of the Dai in
Rural Bangladesh." both to be published shortly. (We can send you copies of
these papers on request). Geoffrey Samuel's work so far has mainly been with
Tibetans in India and Nepal, focussing on religion in Tibetan societies, and
recently examining questions of shamanism and healing. We have recently
commenced a joint comparative research project on women, health and ritual,
focussing on questions of reproductive health, in Bangladesh, West Bengal and
southern Nepal.

If you are interested in giving a paper at the AAS meeting, we need a
title and one-page abstract for your paper in time to submit to the AAS for
their deadline. We are not quite sure when this deadline will be, but in 1993 it
was 3rd August, so we need this material as soon as possible.

Santi Rozario and Geoffrey Samuel
Department of Sociology and Anthropology

University of Newcastle, NSW 2308, Australia
TEL: (049) 215927, 521970FAX: +61 49 216902