Invoking Vali: Painful technologies of modern birth in south India

Cecilia Van Hollen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


As reproduction becomes increasingly biomedicalized throughout the globe, reproductive technologies are used in unique ways and imbued with different meanings. This article explores why lower-class women in south India in the 1990s were demanding to have childbirth labors induced with oxytocin drugs while rejecting anesthesia. Cultural constructions of women's reproductive power are evoked and reworked in discourses of modernity that explain this preference. Discourses on relationships among gender, pain, and modernity relate to political-economic constraints on hospitals to perpetuate this practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-77
Number of pages29
JournalMedical Anthropology Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • Gender
  • India
  • Modernity
  • Reproductive technologies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology

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