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Bhutanese Refugees, Mothering, and Medicalization

Reproduction, Health, and Medicine

ISBN: 978-1-78756-172-4, eISBN: 978-1-78756-171-7

Publication date: 22 November 2019


This chapter draws on qualitative interviews to examine how Bhutanese refugees interact with norms around mothering and childbirth. Since these women have birthed and reared children in Bhutan and/or Nepal, as well as in the United States, their stories help to explore how the implications of medicalization differ for individuals by race, class, and nation, with a unique cross-comparative lens. In particular, the respondents uniquely identify epidurals as an important medical intervention, simultaneously increasing their autonomy while subscribing to neoliberal mothering. This research furthers our understanding of neoliberal mothering and medicalization by showing a nuanced script that illuminates social processes, resistance, and internalization through an intersectional and cross-cultural lens.




I wish to thank Miranda Waggoner, the editors, and two anonymous reviewers, all of whose insights and assistance have helped substantially improve this chapter. My sincere gratitude to the Bhutanese refugee mothers who shared their stories with me. This work was supported in part by a Vanderbilt University Small Research Grant.


Kim, A.F. (2019), "Bhutanese Refugees, Mothering, and Medicalization", Reproduction, Health, and Medicine (Advances in Medical Sociology, Vol. 20), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 63-83.



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