Barbara Katz Rothman
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About Barbara Katz Rothman
Barbara Katz Rothman, PhD, is Professor of Sociology, Public Health, Disability Studies and Women’s Studies at the City University of New York, where she runs the Food Studies concentration. Her books include IN LABOR; THE TENTATIVE PREGNANCY; RECREATING MOTHERHOOD; THE BOOK OF LIFE; WEAVING A FAMILY:UNTANGLING RACE AND ADOPTION, and LABORING ON, and the forthcoming BUN IN THE OVEN: How the Food and Birth Movements Resist Industrialization. She is Past President of Sociologists for Women in Society; the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and current President of the Eastern Sociological Society. She is proud recipient of an award for “Midwifing the Movement” from the Midwives Alliance of North America.
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Books By Barbara Katz Rothman
We are all citizens of the Biomedical Empire, though few of us know it, and even fewer understand the extent of its power. In this book, Barbara Katz Rothman clarifies that critiques of biopower and the "medical industrial complex" have not gone far enough, and asserts that the medical industry is nothing short of an imperial power. Factors as fundamental as one's citizenship and sex identity—drivers of our access to basic goods and services—rely on approval and legitimation by biomedicine. Moreover, a vast and powerful global market has risen up around the empire, making it one of the largest economic forces in the world. Katz Rothman shows that biomedicine has the key elements of an imperial power: economic leverage, the faith of its citizens, and governmental rule. She investigates the Western colonial underpinnings of the empire and its rapid intrusion into everyday life, focusing on the realms of birth and death. This provides her with a powerful vantage point from which to critically examine the current moment, when the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the power structures of the empire in unprecedented ways while sparking the most visible resistance it has ever seen.
There are people dedicated to improving the way we eat, and people dedicated to improving the way we give birth. A Bun in the Oven is the first comparison of these two social movements. The food movement has seemingly exploded, but little has changed in the diet of most Americans. And while there’s talk of improving the childbirth experience, most births happen in large hospitals, about a third result in C-sections, and the US does not fare well in infant or maternal outcomes.
In A Bun in the Oven Barbara Katz Rothman traces the food and the birth movements through three major phases over the course of the 20th century in the United States: from the early 20th century era of scientific management; through to the consumerism of Post World War II with its ‘turn to the French’ in making things gracious; to the late 20th century counter-culture midwives and counter-cuisine cooks. The book explores the tension throughout all of these eras between the industrial demands of mass-management and profit-making, and the social movements—composed largely of women coming together from very different feminist sensibilities—which are working to expose the harmful consequences of industrialization, and make birth and food both meaningful and healthy.
Katz Rothman, an internationally recognized sociologist named ‘midwife to the movement’ by the Midwives Alliance of North America, turns her attention to the lessons to be learned from the food movement, and the parallel forces shaping both of these consumer-based social movements. In both movements, issues of the natural, the authentic, and the importance of ‘meaningful’ and ‘personal’ experiences get balanced against discussions of what is sensible, convenient and safe. And both movements operate in a context of commercial and corporate interests, which places profit and efficiency above individual experiences and outcomes. A Bun in the Oven brings new insight into the relationship between our most intimate, personal experiences, the industries that control them, and the social movements that resist the industrialization of life and seek to birth change.
Facing the polar forces of an epidemic of Cesarean sections and epidurals and home-like labor rooms, American birth is in transition. Caught between the most extreme medicalization — best seen in a Cesarean section rate of nearly 30 percent — and a rhetoric of women’s "choices" and "the natural," women and their midwives, doulas, obstetricians, and nurses labor on. Laboring On offers the voices of all of these practitioners, all women trying to help women, as they struggle with this increasingly split vision of birth.
Updating Barbara Katz Rothman's now-classic In Labor, the first feminist sociological analysis of birth in the United States, Laboring On gives a comprehensive picture of the ever-changing American birth practices and often conflicting visions of birth practitioners. The authors deftly weave compelling accounts of birth work, by midwives, doulas, obstetricians, and nurses, into the larger sociohistorical context of health care practices and activism and offer provocative arguments about the current state of affairs and the future of birth in America.
Barbara Katz Rothman, a noted sociologist who has explored motherhood in four previous books and has more recently explored the social implications of the human genome project, now turns her eye toward race and family. Weaving together the sociological, the historical, and the personal, Barbara Katz Rothman looks at the contemporary American family through the lens of race, race through the lens of adoption, and all-family, race, and adoption-within the context of the changing meanings of motherhood. She asks urgent and provocative questions about children as commodities, about "trophy" children, about the impact of genetics, and about how these adopted children will find their racial, ethnic, or cultural identities
Drawing on her own experience as the white mother of a black child, on historical research on white people raising black children from slavery to contemporary times, and pulling together work on race, adoption, and consumption, Rothman offers us new insights for understanding the way that race and family are shaped in America today. This book is compelling reading, not only for those interested in family and society, but for anyone grappling with the myriad issues that surround raising a child of a different race.