UBC Lectures, Seminars, and Symposia

The Discredited/Entitled Maternity Subject: Medical Colonialism and Birthing in Rural BC Communities Brown, Helen


It has been established that the birthing experiences and outcomes of rural women are shaped by poverty, isolation, limited economic opportunities, and diminishing maternity services. We lack research into how these dynamics are compounded by intersecting forms of oppression faced by Aboriginal women, to impact on their birthing experiences and outcomes. The findings of this study of rural Aboriginal maternity care in 4 communities in British Columbia show how diminishing local birthing choices and women’s struggles to exert power, choice, and control are influenced by centuries of colonization. The research questions focus on rural Aboriginal women’s experiences of birthing and maternity care in this neocolonial context and their desire for supportive birthing environments. Although the women’s experiences in each community were shaped by distinct histories and traditions, economics, politics, and geographies, the impacts of colonization and medical paternalism and the struggle for control of women’s bodies during birth intersect, placing additional stress on women. When these research findings were shared in public and health policy forums, an additional layer to the analysis was pursued. Policy-makers and maternity service providers in several forums responded by saying we don’t hear white women complaining. This response led several of the investigators to theorize how the discredited/entitled maternity subject is being discursively constructed to perpetuate dismissive care. Participant will be invited to engage in dialogue about how to dismantle ongoing medical colonialism for rural Aboriginal women within the context of maternity care.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported