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Ruth DeSouza(February 2012)

In this podcast Ruth gives a keynote presentation at the hui.

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In an insightful keynote presentation recorded on February 5, 2012, at the Ponsonby Community Centre in Auckland, Ruth DeSouza shared their research findings and aroused thought-provoking discussions on the intersectionality of maternity, mental health, and migration. DeSouza's presentation began by outlining the intention to delve into their recently completed Ph.D. research. By dividing the hour-long session into a mix of lecture and interactive group work, DeSouza aimed to foster an atmosphere conducive to mutual learning and conversation.

Through experiences gained working in mental health and wanting to witness the joy in life, DeSouza was initially attracted to a postnatal ward in National Women's Hospital, Auckland. However, they were soon confronted with the significant cultural dissonance between institutional maternity care practices and the needs and traditions of migrant women, particularly those from Asia. The practitioner observed how standardized healthcare protocols often negatively impacted these women, highlighting the clash between warm and cold treatments, post-birth pampering traditions, and New Zealand's expectation of quick maternal self-sufficiency.

Motivated by these observations, DeSouza embarked on a journey to investigate the influence of institutions on individual subjectivity. Specifically, they focused on how women of color experienced childbirth and postnatal care, against the backdrop of their cultural contexts and the dominant health system's expectations. DeSouza engaged with a wide array of women from countries like Iraq, Palestine, China, Korea, India, the UK, USA, and South Africa, alongside health professionals, to understand their perspectives on maternity care.

Furthermore, DeSouza delved into theoretical frameworks to analyze maternity care's historical and ideological foundations. They drew on Michel Foucault's concepts of discourse and genealogy to trace the origins of present-day practices and beliefs, questioning how certain hegemonic values come to be replicated through the system, and the impact it had on migrant mothers and healthcare professionals.

Key to DeSouza's research was the critical examination of how societal structures and expectations could create barriers or inequities for migrant mothers. The research also probed into the narratives surrounding birth as a transformational experience and whether this idea was truly accessible to women of color. DeSouza challenged the audience to consider the broader implications of reproductive practices on society's fabric, especially how these practices replicate power dynamics and societal norms.

To facilitate a deeper understanding, DeSouza presented discourse examples, even sharing contemporary cultural representations like Valentine's Day cards from the 1950s, to illustrate the pervasive yet often unacknowledged ideologies shaping societal views on topics like gender relationships and addiction.

In closing, DeSouza proposed an interactive element, intending to break down the presentation into smaller discussions focusing on quotes from healthcare professionals. The goal was to stimulate critical thinking and evaluation of prevailing discourses that professionals in the maternity care sector hold.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:5th February 2012
Location:Ponsonby Community Centre, Auckland
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-003914).