Week 3

Week 3: Life Cycle Events


Inuit Birth Readings

Netherlands Birth Readings


  • Activity (500-700 words):This week we are looking at universal life events. Everyone is born and everyone will die. For this activity you will read about “authoritative knowledge” by Brigitte Jordan OR an article by Susan Orpett Long on the cultural differences of determining brain death (see links to both articles below).

    Discuss how culture affects birth OR death within your chosen country. Investigate who holds the “authoritative knowledge” for birth OR death within your country. Who is responsible for assisting in birthing rites OR death rites there? For example, is it a midwife or a doctor present at birth? Is there anyone else expected to be present at the birth? When and how is death determined? Who prepares the body for burial? Is it a family member or a funeral home? How is the person’s death marked? Is there a wake or a procession, or, for example, in the Jewish community, sitting shiva?

    State explicitly which life event (birth OR death) you are going to examine, and using either the Jordan article OR the Long article as your basis for developing your ideas, then find at least two other articles or reports from other news sources or, perhaps, the international organizations I posted the links for in Week One to focus specifically on how one of these life events is treated in your chosen country. Another possible source is National Geographic. Remember to use at least two other sources, and include the author’s name and the date of publication in the body of your answer, like this (Claiborne 2015) and put the full source information below your answer.

    Activity PDF 3.1: Authoritative Knowledge (Jordan 1992)
    Activity PDF 3.2: Cultural scripts for a good death in Japan and the US (Long 2004)

  • Blog post: Two-part blog post:
    • Part I: 500 to 700 words: Please think about the ways that birth have been medicalized differently in the Netherlands, among the Inuit, and in Vietnam than in the United States. You can also use the information about how death and burials are medicalized in the United States as part of this comparison. How do the different kinds of birth (and death) reflect different cultural ideas about women, mothers, and families? Please also identify the theoretical perspectives of de Jonge A., et al., the filmmakers Ahlmark, Nick and Nicole Precel, and Daviss, Betty-Anne, and Rush, Merilynne.
    • Part II: Find and post a link or a photo of an image related to pregnancy or birth in a mainstream American media source (magazine article, on-line, advertisement, etc.). Describe in 100-200 words how this image is related to dominant ideas about birth in America (does the image reinforce or challenge dominant ideas? What particular messages does the image communicate about women generally or about pregnancy or birth?)
  • Blog comment: Comment on another class member’s blog post. You may extend the argument of your classmate by adding information or ideas or respectfully challenge their ideas. Aim for a comment that is between 150-200 words.