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 I'm exploring 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

Talk: Splashing in New Waters: Beyond Second Wave Feminism

The first-ever joint conference of the Midwives Alliance of North America, the Canadian Association of Midwives and the American College of Nurse Midwives took place in Niagara Falls in November 2011.  I was present at the first-ever MANA conference (still have the t shirt!) and have been at most of the ones since.  It is one of the great honors and joys of my life that I was invited to do a plenary presentation at this meeting.   Talks are flexible, things come up, and I never could or would give a written-out version of a talk.  But here's the gist of what I had to say. 

click here to read the talk

Article: On Markens

This short article is from on a panel in response to a new book on Surrogacy by Susan Markens.  The book has the greatest cover -- a pregnant belly, barcoded.  It's a white pregnant belly on that cover -- the dark ones are cheaper.  Googling for Surrogacy to find the image, ads popped up first -- how to hire a surrogate, how to get work as one.  It's a business, and like so many American businesses, increasingly outsourced. 
The very concept of surrogacy continues to infuriate me -- Every pregnant woman is the mother of the baby in her belly.  I will stand by that no matter what technologies we develop, no matter whose genetic material is involved, no matter what she was thinking or planning (or not) when she got pregnant, and no matter what that woman chooses to do with that baby after it has left her body.  If she wants to stop being its mother at birth, place it for adoption, I'm as supportive as only an adoptive mother can be.  If she wants to sell it -- well, let's think about that.  I'm still not ready to endorse baby-selling, but there's an argument to be had.  But for me -- don't tell me it's not her baby while it's in her belly. 

Click here to read the article

Frau Dokter Katz Rothmann

For reasons I've written about, (see "Jews, Germans and Clones")  I've come to have a German audience.  A year or so ago, Hildburg Wegener, a feminist theologian, approached me about coming to give a talk on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the publication of The Tentative Pregnancy.  25 years? seriously?  Did the math and yes, indeed.  I went to that meeting, met Germans who are still working hard on issues around prenatal testing, who are still worried about eugenics slipping in what Troy Duster called 'the back door,' the medical-testing route. 
After a really fascinating conference -- made all the more so because my son, Daniel Colb Rothman, joined me and was able to help me see, reflect, think about what was happening -- Hildburg spoke to me about doing a book aimed particularly for German audiences.  We went through just about all of my published work, articles, chapters in my own and others' books, essays, presentations, and Hildburg chose the chapters that would speak to Germans.  She's almost done with the translating, guided me through the editing, and the book is going to come out soon.  The jacket here is not quite the final version -- they have (charmingly) done what Germans seem to always do with my last name, and bestowed an extra n on Rothmann.  I've become rather fond of my German personna, Frau Doktor Katz Rothmann.