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November 17 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Ambivalent Technologies and Maternal Danger in Malawi
also on Zoom: https://uwmadison.zoom.us/j/98906585030
Claire Wendland, Professor and Chair, Anthropology
When Malawian experts described the dangers of pregnancy and childbirth, various tools and technologies were important parts of their stories. Drawing from her new book Partial Stories: Maternal Death from Six Angles (Chicago, 2022) Wendland examines tools used to ward off the dreaded pregnancy complication of obstructed labor—among them abortifacients, measuring sticks, and labor charts called partographs. Some technologies were powerful social actors, marking people who used them as either backward or modern. Ethnographic work revealed that medical technologies used to prevent death were ultimately ambivalent: even “magic bullets” imagined as safe, inexpensive, and material were often also dangerous, expensive, and social.