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SVC History Professor Publishes Book about Childbirth in China

Public Relations
Posted: Tuesday Sep 6, 2011
Dr. Tina Phillips Johnson, assistant professor of history at Saint Vincent College who also coordinates the activities of the James and Margaret Tseng Loe China Studies Center at Saint Vincent, is the author of a new book, Childbirth in Republican China: Delivering Modernity (1911-1949), published by Lexington Books, an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield.

The 268-page book is the study of a pivotal period in which traditional midwifery, marked by private, unregulated old-style midwives, was transformed into modern midwifery through the adoption of a highly medicalized and state-sponsored birth model that is standard in urban China today.

“In the 20th century, biomedical technologies altered the process of childbirth on virtually every level,” Dr. Johnson said. “What had been a matter of private interest, focusing on the family and lineage, became a national priority, a symbol of the new citizen who would participate in the creation of a revitalized nation. This transformation of reproduction coalesces with the broader story of China’s 20th century revolutions, marked by an emphasis on science and modernity.”

“The roles of the state and of western medical personnel were paramount in affecting these changes, but especially important are the intense social and cultural shifts that occurred simultaneously,” she continued. “The dominant themes of reproduction in 20th century China are characterized by expanding state involvement, shifting gender roles, escalating consumption patterns accompanying the commercialization of private lives, and the increasing medicalization of the birth process.”

Dr. Johnson’s book-writing project was made possible by a scholar grant from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (USA). She is the first scholar in any field to date to examine in-depth the development of the midwifery profession in twentieth-century China.

The book is available for purchase in either hardback or digital formats for $39.95 by contacting the publisher at 800-462-6420 or www.rowmanlittlefield.com.


Photo: Dr. Tina Phillips Johnson