Week 3

Week 3: Life Cycle Events

  • Reminder: Some of this week’s readings are hosted on MSU Google Drive. These are only accessible using your MSU Google Apps account. When you open the link, you’ll be prompted to select which google account you want to open them with – use your MSU Google Apps account (which requires your regular MSU Net ID and password). If you choose your non-MSU google account, you won’t be able to open the file. Do not request access to the files with your non-MSU Google account.


Inuit Birth Readings

Netherlands Birth Readings


  • Activity post (15 points): 500-700 words, Due Friday, July 20 by 11:59 PM. 

    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, using either the Jordan article OR the Long article as your basis for developing your ideas. Then, find at least two other articles/reports from other news sources or the international organizations I linked in Week One to focus specifically on how one of these life events (birth or death) is treated in your chosen country. Another possible source is National Geographic. Remember to use at least two sources in addition to the Long or Jordan article. Include the author’s name and the date of publication in the body of your text —like this (Claiborne 2015)–and include the full source information for all sources you cite at the end of your post.

    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 (15 points):  600-900 words total, Due Friday, July 20 by 11:59 PM

    • Part I (500 to 700 words): Please think about the ways that birth has been medicalized differently in the Netherlands, among the Inuit, and in Vietnam compared to 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 Nick Ahlmark and Nicole Precel, Betty-Anne Daviss, and Merilynne Rush.
    • Part II (100-200 words): 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 (15 points): 150-200 words, Due Sunday, July 22 by 11:59 PM

    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. Your comment should contain 3-4 of the following: questions, another point of view, evidence from outside sources, insights from the weekly readings.