Margaret MacDonald

Department of Anthropology

Associate Professor

Office: Founders College, 232
Phone: (416) 736-2100 Ext: 77466
Emailmaggie@yorku.ca

I am a medical anthropologist specializing in gender and health with particular interests in women's reproductive health. I have conducted long term ethnographic research with global health NGOs and advocates, maternal health NGOs in Senegal, and amongst midwives and their clients in Canada.

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Maternal Health in Senegal

In 2016 I spent six months collaborating with an NGO based in Dakar, Senegal that delivers maternal health programs in rural and remote areas of the country. The purpose of the research was to better understand the logic underlying their interventions and the experiences of local health professionals and community members they affect.

Global Reproductive Health

My research in this area traces the development of international policy since the 1980s to promote safe motherhood and reduce maternal mortality. Drawing on visual, documentary, and narrative data from key governmental, NGO and UN organizations, I am orienting this project around key debates and emerging tools in the effort to address maternal mortality in low resource settings: the controversial place of traditional birth attendants in maternal health; the production and uses of photography and film in international campaigns as affective, aesthetic information about maternal mortality; and the emergence of new biomedical-technical solutions embedded in feminist politics around reproductive health. This project intersects with my research in Senegal mentioned above.

Midwifery in Canada

My 2007 book, At Work in the Field of Birth: Midwifery Narratives of Nature, Tradition and Home (Vanderbilt University Press), is an ethnographic account of contemporary midwifery in Ontario in the wake of its historic transition from the margins as a grassroots social movement to a profession in the public health care system in the 1990s. The book describes the contested place of this ‘new midwifery’ vis a vis its own foundational concepts of nature, tradition, and home as well as in relation to biomedical knowledge, institutions, and technologies. My theoretical focus in this work is the on going power of ‘the natural’ to orient the contemporary project of midwifery. Several new projects on the culture of midwifery are at various stages of development: Maternal Citizens and Midwifery Care considers the emergence of diversity as a new professional value and set of practices within midwifery; Midwifery as Consumption reads the commonplace (and politicized) reference to “midwifery consumers” through the lens of consumption theory and literature in medical anthropology that sees the pursuit of health as an “aesthetic project of the self”; and The Scientization of the Midwifery Body will follow midwives’ increasing participation in clinical research (as part of the trend towards evidence based medicine) and explore its impact on both the professional body of midwifery and the maternal bodies of the women in their care


Area of Specialization

Anthropology of science, medicine and technology

All Publications

Books

2016 The Legacy of Midwifery and the Women’s Health Movement in Contemporary Discourses of Patient Choice and Empowerment in Mainstream Biomedicine. Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice. (January)

2013 (with J Childerhose). Health Consumption as Work: The Home Pregnancy Kit as a Domesticated Health Tool. Social Science and Medicine. 86 (June): 1-8. The biopolitics of maternal mortality. Anthropological observations from the Women Deliver Conference in Kuala Lumpur. Somatosphere. Science, Medicine and Anthropology. July 25. http://somatosphere.net/2013/07/the-biopolitics-of-maternal-mortality-anthropological-observations-from-the-women-deliver-conference-in-kuala-lumpur.html

2012 “Natural Birth at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century: Implications for Gender.” In C Brettell and C Sargent (eds.). Gender in Cross Cultural Perspective (Sixth Edition). Boston, MA: Pearson.

2011 The cultural evolution of natural birth. The Lancet. 378 (July 30): 394-395.

2009 MacDonald, M and IL Bourgeault. “The Ontario Midwifery Model of Care.” In R Davis-Floyd and L Barclay (eds.). Birth Models that Work. Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp 89-118.

2007 At Work in the Field of Birth: Midwifery Narratives of Nature, Tradition and Home. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.

2006 “Gender Expectations: Natural Bodies and Natural Births in the New Midwifery in Ontario.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 20(2): 235-256.

2006 Bourgeault, IL, Luce, J, & MacDonald, M. “The caring dilemma in midwifery: balancing the needs of midwives and clients in a continuity of care model of practice.” Community, Work and Family. 9(4): 398-406.

2004 "Tradition as a Political Symbol in the New Midwifery in Ontario." In I L Bourgeault, C Benoit, and R Davis-Floyd (eds.). Reconceiving Midwifery: The New Canadian Model. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press. Pp 46-66.

2001 "Postmodern Negotiations with Medical Technology: The Role of Midwifery Clients in the New Midwifery in Canada." Medical Anthropology. 20: 245-276.

2001 "The Politics of Representation: Doing and Writing Interested Research on Midwifery." Resources for Feminist Research. 28(1/2): 151-168.

Approach To Teaching

Current Undergraduate Courses
ANTH 2170 6.0 Sex, Gender, and the Body (F/W 2016-17)

Previous Undergraduate Courses
ANTH 4430 6.0 Anthropology of Reproduction, Personhood, and Citizenship
ANTH 4110 6.0 Development of Theory in Anthropology
ANTH 3330 6.0 Health and Illness in Cross-Cultural Perspective
ANTH 3230 6.0 Women, Culture, and Society
ANTH 3200 3.0 International Health

Graduate Teaching
I advise graduate students at the MA and PhD level, who are interested in medical anthropology, global health, gender and the body, science and technology studies, and feminist ethnography and theory.

In the fall term 2016 I am teaching ANTH 5225: Global Health. This course is open to MA and PhD Students in Anthropology and related disciplines (by permission of the instructor).




I am a medical anthropologist specializing in gender and health with particular interests in women's reproductive health. I have conducted long term ethnographic research with global health NGOs and advocates, maternal health NGOs in Senegal, and amongst midwives and their clients in Canada.


Maternal Health in Senegal

In 2016 I spent six months collaborating with an NGO based in Dakar, Senegal that delivers maternal health programs in rural and remote areas of the country. The purpose of the research was to better understand the logic underlying their interventions and the experiences of local health professionals and community members they affect.

Global Reproductive Health

My research in this area traces the development of international policy since the 1980s to promote safe motherhood and reduce maternal mortality. Drawing on visual, documentary, and narrative data from key governmental, NGO and UN organizations, I am orienting this project around key debates and emerging tools in the effort to address maternal mortality in low resource settings: the controversial place of traditional birth attendants in maternal health; the production and uses of photography and film in international campaigns as affective, aesthetic information about maternal mortality; and the emergence of new biomedical-technical solutions embedded in feminist politics around reproductive health. This project intersects with my research in Senegal mentioned above.

Midwifery in Canada

My 2007 book, At Work in the Field of Birth: Midwifery Narratives of Nature, Tradition and Home (Vanderbilt University Press), is an ethnographic account of contemporary midwifery in Ontario in the wake of its historic transition from the margins as a grassroots social movement to a profession in the public health care system in the 1990s. The book describes the contested place of this ‘new midwifery’ vis a vis its own foundational concepts of nature, tradition, and home as well as in relation to biomedical knowledge, institutions, and technologies. My theoretical focus in this work is the on going power of ‘the natural’ to orient the contemporary project of midwifery. Several new projects on the culture of midwifery are at various stages of development: Maternal Citizens and Midwifery Care considers the emergence of diversity as a new professional value and set of practices within midwifery; Midwifery as Consumption reads the commonplace (and politicized) reference to “midwifery consumers” through the lens of consumption theory and literature in medical anthropology that sees the pursuit of health as an “aesthetic project of the self”; and The Scientization of the Midwifery Body will follow midwives’ increasing participation in clinical research (as part of the trend towards evidence based medicine) and explore its impact on both the professional body of midwifery and the maternal bodies of the women in their care

Area of Specialization

Anthropology of science, medicine and technology

All Publications

Books

2016 The Legacy of Midwifery and the Women’s Health Movement in Contemporary Discourses of Patient Choice and Empowerment in Mainstream Biomedicine. Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice. (January)

2013 (with J Childerhose). Health Consumption as Work: The Home Pregnancy Kit as a Domesticated Health Tool. Social Science and Medicine. 86 (June): 1-8. The biopolitics of maternal mortality. Anthropological observations from the Women Deliver Conference in Kuala Lumpur. Somatosphere. Science, Medicine and Anthropology. July 25. http://somatosphere.net/2013/07/the-biopolitics-of-maternal-mortality-anthropological-observations-from-the-women-deliver-conference-in-kuala-lumpur.html

2012 “Natural Birth at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century: Implications for Gender.” In C Brettell and C Sargent (eds.). Gender in Cross Cultural Perspective (Sixth Edition). Boston, MA: Pearson.

2011 The cultural evolution of natural birth. The Lancet. 378 (July 30): 394-395.

2009 MacDonald, M and IL Bourgeault. “The Ontario Midwifery Model of Care.” In R Davis-Floyd and L Barclay (eds.). Birth Models that Work. Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp 89-118.

2007 At Work in the Field of Birth: Midwifery Narratives of Nature, Tradition and Home. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.

2006 “Gender Expectations: Natural Bodies and Natural Births in the New Midwifery in Ontario.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 20(2): 235-256.

2006 Bourgeault, IL, Luce, J, & MacDonald, M. “The caring dilemma in midwifery: balancing the needs of midwives and clients in a continuity of care model of practice.” Community, Work and Family. 9(4): 398-406.

2004 "Tradition as a Political Symbol in the New Midwifery in Ontario." In I L Bourgeault, C Benoit, and R Davis-Floyd (eds.). Reconceiving Midwifery: The New Canadian Model. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press. Pp 46-66.

2001 "Postmodern Negotiations with Medical Technology: The Role of Midwifery Clients in the New Midwifery in Canada." Medical Anthropology. 20: 245-276.

2001 "The Politics of Representation: Doing and Writing Interested Research on Midwifery." Resources for Feminist Research. 28(1/2): 151-168.


Teaching:

Approach To Teaching

Current Undergraduate Courses
ANTH 2170 6.0 Sex, Gender, and the Body (F/W 2016-17)

Previous Undergraduate Courses
ANTH 4430 6.0 Anthropology of Reproduction, Personhood, and Citizenship
ANTH 4110 6.0 Development of Theory in Anthropology
ANTH 3330 6.0 Health and Illness in Cross-Cultural Perspective
ANTH 3230 6.0 Women, Culture, and Society
ANTH 3200 3.0 International Health

Graduate Teaching
I advise graduate students at the MA and PhD level, who are interested in medical anthropology, global health, gender and the body, science and technology studies, and feminist ethnography and theory.

In the fall term 2016 I am teaching ANTH 5225: Global Health. This course is open to MA and PhD Students in Anthropology and related disciplines (by permission of the instructor).