Lauren Noël Marsh

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pittsburgh, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10135

Approve Date

April 8, 2021

Project Title

Marsh , Lauren (Pittsburgh, U. of) "Laboring for Reproductive Justice: Doula Care in Carceral Spaces"

In the U.S., a growing reproductive justice movement draws attention to the multiple, intersecting structural oppressions that inhibit marginalized people’s abilities to have children, not have children, and/or to parent the children they have in safe and healthy environments. As part of this movement, growing numbers of birth doulas seek to support incarcerated pregnant women during their pregnancies and births. At the same time, prison doulas actively critique carceral and biomedical institutions for the ways in which they oppress marginalized women. In this project I examine prison doula care to understand how issues of reproduction, (health) care practices, and struggles for (social, reproductive) justice are situated at the intersection of the carceral and maternal healthcare systems. I ask how doulas, as liminal social actors (moving both within and outside these institutions), navigate these contexts while working to transform them. Using a combination of ethnographic methods, I will investigate the following: 1) How do prison doulas navigate the ambivalence of providing care within systems that perpetuate structural violence? 2) In that process, how do prison doulas navigate tensions between professionalization, institutional access, and political advocacy? 3) How might doula intervention in individual births challenge broader patterns of social marginalization?