(Re)-conceiving birthing spaces in India : exploring NGO promotion of institutional delivery in Rajasthan, India Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/pv63g322h

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  • In India, globalized flows of bio-medical discourse, practices and technologies are reshaping the field of reproductive healthcare, and the performance of childbirth more specifically. These projects aim to produce institutional delivery rooms that are "safe and modernized" by equating the utilization of westernized, obstetric techniques for managing delivery with better birth outcomes. Yet, these projects often evoke dynamic tensions between the imagined labor rooms NGOs seek to produce and the lived realties of labor in a local context. In this thesis, I examine the ways NGOs market and disseminate state and global discourses around safe, institutional delivers to local communities through a case study of one NGO working in rural southern Rajasthan. Drawing on data from participant observation and in-depth, semi-structured interviews with NGO staff and skilled-birth attendants employed by community health centers, I argue that at the interface of NGO, state, and global relations of power, a commodified discourse in the form of Evidenced-based Delivery (EBD) practices is emerging. This discourse is marketed through a political economy of hope that promotes EBDs as essential for safe delivery. In this system, NGOs function as conduits for transmitting idealized notions of the safe and modern delivery room, and thereby affect a shift in what skilled-birth attendants and communities come to expect from their childbirth experiences -- expectations that I argue are often difficult to meet given current training levels, limited economic resources, and a diverse set of cultural values around childbirth. My findings indicate that while Evidence-based Delivery practices may improve birth outcomes in some contexts, in the delivery rooms of rural Rajasthan, they are functioning essentially as technologies that capitalize on the political economy of hope by evoking the medical imaginary.
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