Sarah A. Williams
Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationBrown U.
Grant numberGr. 10398
Approve DateOctober 11, 2022
Project TitleWilliams, Sarah (Brown U.) "Pelvic Structures: How Race Science, Gender, and Knowledge Translation Shape Mexican Obstetric Practice and Gynecological Healing"
Mexico has one of the highest cesarean section (CS) rates in the world, despite twenty years of attempts to curtail the use of medically unnecessary (CS). Medically unnecessary (CS) are considered a form of obstetric violence, which is ubiquitous within maternal health care systems and has drawn considerable attention in Mexico. This project is an archival and ethnographic study of the role of race science and eugenics in the development of Mexican obstetrics and the continued influence of these ideologies—and the practices, such as pelvimetric measurement to determine maternal fitness, that developed with them—in shaping the diagnostic decisions made by Yucatecan obstetricians and midwives, decisions that often lead to (CS). On a macro level, my research seeks to theoretically re-frame obstetric violence as a praxis that is an expression of the co-constitutive ideologies of both gender and racialization, deeply rooted in the origins of Mexican obstetrics. My project will extend our understanding of these processes through an archival and ethnographic investigation of how and to what extent obstetric practices rooted in race science and the eugenics ideologies underpinning them were taken up and integrated into Yucatecan medical schools and institutions, and how they continue to manifest in diagnostic decision-making today.