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Med Anthropol Q. 2003 Mar;17(1):49-77.

Invoking vali: painful technologies of modern birth in south India.

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  • 1Department of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame, USA.


As reproduction becomes increasingly biomedicalized throughout the globe, reproductive technologies are used in unique ways and imbued with different meanings. This article explores why lower-class women in south India in the 1990s were demanding to have childbirth labors induced with oxytocin drugs while rejecting anesthesia. Cultural constructions of women's reproductive power are evoked and reworked in discourses of modernity that explain this preference. Discourses on relationships among gender, pain, and modernity relate to political-economic constraints on hospitals to perpetuate this practice.

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