Citation

Delivering Babies, Constructing Race: Racialized Reproductive Health in Early Twentieth Century New Mexico

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Abstract:

This presentation examines processes of racial and gender formation through reproductive public health policies and medical research in New Mexico. During the early twentieth century, the state of New Mexico had the highest incidence of infant mortality in the nation. In fact, New Mexico’s infant death rate was double the national average and when these statistics are broken down by race, it is clear that Mexican American and Native American infants were dying at three to four times the rate of white infants. In vastly divergent ways, health officials, doctors, medical anthropologists, parteras (New Mexican midwives), and white public health nurses all sought to explain and remedy this reproductive health crisis. My presentation historicizes these responses and presents an analysis of the intertwined nature of race and reproduction in public consciousness. Additionally, this presentation traces the institutionalization of racial hierarchies though reproductive public health policies.
More specifically, this presentation is based on my primary source research into the archives of New Mexico’s public health department and the collections of Sophie D. Aberle, a white medical anthropologist who studied reproduction in one of New Mexico’s northern Pueblos. This paper brings together my analysis of the regulation of parteras—empirically trained, Spanish-speaking midwives—by the state public health department and the anthropological research conducted on the fertility rates of San Juan Pueblo women. I argue that the training and licensing of parteras by white, female public health nurses was fraught with negotiations of racial hierarchies and the establishment of racially exclusive (white) professionalism. Likewise, I analyze encounters over birthing practices between white, female medical anthropologists and mothers in Northern New Mexico’s San Juan Pueblo to reveal further complex sites of racial construction and negotiation. By comparing and contrasting these sites of reproductive health intervention, my presentation argues that racism and the legacies of colonialism had a direct impact on the health of New Mexicans.
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Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.theasa.net


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p245020_index.html
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MLA Citation:

McQuade, Lena. "Delivering Babies, Constructing Race: Racialized Reproductive Health in Early Twentieth Century New Mexico" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Albuquerque, New Mexico, <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p245020_index.html>

APA Citation:

McQuade, L. "Delivering Babies, Constructing Race: Racialized Reproductive Health in Early Twentieth Century New Mexico" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Albuquerque, New Mexico <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p245020_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: This presentation examines processes of racial and gender formation through reproductive public health policies and medical research in New Mexico. During the early twentieth century, the state of New Mexico had the highest incidence of infant mortality in the nation. In fact, New Mexico’s infant death rate was double the national average and when these statistics are broken down by race, it is clear that Mexican American and Native American infants were dying at three to four times the rate of white infants. In vastly divergent ways, health officials, doctors, medical anthropologists, parteras (New Mexican midwives), and white public health nurses all sought to explain and remedy this reproductive health crisis. My presentation historicizes these responses and presents an analysis of the intertwined nature of race and reproduction in public consciousness. Additionally, this presentation traces the institutionalization of racial hierarchies though reproductive public health policies.
More specifically, this presentation is based on my primary source research into the archives of New Mexico’s public health department and the collections of Sophie D. Aberle, a white medical anthropologist who studied reproduction in one of New Mexico’s northern Pueblos. This paper brings together my analysis of the regulation of parteras—empirically trained, Spanish-speaking midwives—by the state public health department and the anthropological research conducted on the fertility rates of San Juan Pueblo women. I argue that the training and licensing of parteras by white, female public health nurses was fraught with negotiations of racial hierarchies and the establishment of racially exclusive (white) professionalism. Likewise, I analyze encounters over birthing practices between white, female medical anthropologists and mothers in Northern New Mexico’s San Juan Pueblo to reveal further complex sites of racial construction and negotiation. By comparing and contrasting these sites of reproductive health intervention, my presentation argues that racism and the legacies of colonialism had a direct impact on the health of New Mexicans.


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