Rachelle Chadwick
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The politics of naming
Contested vocabularies of birth violence
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This chapter explores the contested vocabularies used to name and conceptualise birth violence across a range of geopolitical contexts. Using a transnational feminist approach, it argues that a tendency towards geopolitical bifurcation (rooted in racist and colonial historical legacies) frames the ways in which researchers have approached and conceptualised birth violence in different settings. As a result of this bifurcation, separate literatures and vocabularies have developed, which frame the issue of birth violence in distinctive ways depending on geopolitical zones. The conceptual usefulness of the term ‘obstetric violence’ is thus considered as an alternative, unifying, and transnational vocabulary. However, the limitations of this conceptual lexicon are also discussed, particularly in relation to the ability of the framework to theorise (and address) the multiple modalities of violation that potentially occur during pregnancy, labour and birth.

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