For a long time I’ve been thinking about going beyond what my colleagues in sociology now routinely call ‘the biomedical industrial complex,’ and asking us to think of Biomedicine as an Imperial power, having not only enormous financial resources but also the almost-religious belief system and the governmental power of any empire. People ‘believe’ in aspects of medicine; and your citizenship, your personhood, depends on medical approval, from birth certificates through proof of competency, on to death certificates. I’m using this ‘covid moment’ to put these thoughts together in a new book, coming from Stanford Briefs in the spring. I am exploring the ways that Public Health seems to have morphed into ‘medicine for all,’ and the particular role of biomedical citizenship at ‘the gates of life,’ the management of both birth and death.
Barbara Katz Rothman
"Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers- strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength." - Barbara Katz Rothman
About this site
Welcome to my site. My friends and I created this to share some of my work and - more importantly - to invite an exchange of ideas.
I've been a sociologist for a long time. and ventured into a number of different fields over the years: birth and midwifery (which I still think of as my home base); the new genetics and reproductive technologies; medical sociology; bioethics; issues in disability; adoption; race; and now food studies too. Some of you might know my work in one of these areas, others in a different area. What would be really interesting would be to have people talk, with each other and with me, across areas. I've tried, with some success over the years, to talk to midwives about genetics; to encourage people who do new reproductive technologies to think about home birth; to have bioethicists pay more attention to what medical sociology can offer; to get people in Food Studies thinking where midwifery issues overlap with their concerns. These are invariably the most fun and stimulating conversations I've ever been a part of. Connecting people, connecting ideas, weaving the webs that pull us together - nothing could make me happier. So this site, a gift from my friends, is my place to do this kind of weaving.
We've grouped my work by area - but please, if you're here because you have gotten anything useful out of my work in one area, do poke around for a minute in another. Bring your insights and wisdom and experience to a new place, a new issue. Let's see what we can weave together.
- Barbara Katz Rothman
Offline: How others see us
Surprisingly good review from the Editor in Chief of The Lancet. Click here to read.
The Page 99 Test does "The Biomedical Empire"
Fun feature on my new book, "The Biomedical Empire."
Click here to read on The Page 99 Test blog.
And a brief mention on the Campaign for the American Reader.
The best books on the ever-more-timely topic of death and dying
A wonderful new website for books - here is my contribution. Click here to read.
My Finnish Fulbright Fantasy
I was honored to be the recipient of the Fulbright-Saastamoinen Foundation Distinguished Chair in Health Sciences 2018-2019.
This Fulbright, as a Distinguished Chair, differs from most -- it is for two separate month-long trips.
The work I did there includes returning to a project I did in the Netherlands on a Fulbright over 20 years ago, interviewing prenatal care providers on their experience and understandings of how prenatal diagnosis affects pregnancy as a social and emotional experience. That work was published as SPOILING THE PREGNANCY (click to read here) by the Dutch Midwifery Foundation. I am engaged in ongoing work with Finnish colleagues, particularly Johanna Sarlio-Nieminen and the Kone Foundation, looking at birth care and services in Finland.
Air rights and local politics
Click here to read my op-ed on air rights on Bowery Boogie. (Alternate link here).
African American Midwifery: A History and a Lament
Click here to read.
Comments on the endless seemingly hopeless fight for parental leave in the United States
Update: Click here for a brief Q&A with The Graduate Center, CUNY.
The Cost of Medicalized Contraception: Now More than Ever
Click here to read my full post on the NYU Press blog.
A Cynic Mourns
Blog Post for "Books Combined"
You can read the post here.
Contemporary Sociology Review & Response
Contemporary Sociology review and my response.
Journal of American Culture, Book Review, Summer 2017
The Journal of American Culture review can be read here.
North American Dialogue, Book Review, Summer 2017
The North American Dialogue review can be read here.
The Cresset, "An Order for Delivery," Summer 2017
The Cresset review can be read here.
Patheos, "Birth and Eating as Resistance Movements", Jan 30, 2017
The Patheos review can be read here.
(Update: A longer version can be read in The Cresset link above)
Feminist Collections, "Ovens & Ovaries: Reclaiming Food & Birth in a Capitalist Society", Fall 2016
The Feminist Collections review can be read here.
Times Literary Supplement, Sept 9, 2016:
This review does make me want to read the Ramaswamy book, and oh, what an interesting idea, maybe I should write a book about birth...
TLS review can be read here.
Huffington Post, August 29, 2016:
A review of BUN by Fabio Parasecoli, Associate professor and director of Food Studies Initiatives, New School - NY can be read here.
PsycCRITIQUES, American Psychological Association, July 11, 2016
The PsycCRITIQUES review can be read here.
Times Higher Education, July 4, 2016
"A sociologist in the world of midwifery is introduced to food studies, and spots parallels everywhere with the world of birth. Her wittily named study ranges insightfully from Julia Child to natural childbirth, and from Lamaze and Pavlov to labour times, Cesareans and kale chips as she considers how 'birth and food, once so profoundly part of women's world of production, ultimately came to be acts of consumption,.. framed inside a big machine, an industrialized, medicalized, and capitalist system'".
(Can be read here)
Food, Birth, and the Future
Please click here for more.