Childbirth, Maternity, and Medical Pluralism in French Colonial Vietnam, 1880-1945
Thuy Linh Nguyen
Series: Rochester Studies in Medical History
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: University of Rochester Press (November 1, 2016)
This book explores the interactions between French medicine and Vietnamese childbirth traditions, examining how these interactions shaped maternal and infant health care in Vietnam. Armed with the language and expertise of modern medicine, French physicians and administrators set out on a mission to relocate Vietnamese childbirth to a clinical setting. But as the French ventured into indigenous communities, they found themselves negotiating with a myriad of Vietnamese cultural practices relating to childbirth and infant care. Thwarted by local resistance, cultural misunderstanding, and ambiguous policy, the Western model of hospital birth neither displaced nor transformed indigenous birthing traditions in the ways the French had envisioned. Instead, as author Thuy Linh Nguyen demonstrates, the emergence of a plural system of maternity services, many of which were based on local practices and beliefs, served as a testimony to the compromises and adaptations made by both the French and Vietnamese populations. Thuy Linh Nguyen is assistant professor of history at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY.