maggie


Margaret MacDonald

Photo of Margaret MacDonald

Department of Anthropology

Associate Professor
Graduate Program Director

Office: Vari Hall 2014C
Phone: (416) 736-2100
Email: maggie@yorku.ca

Media Requests Welcome
Accepting New Graduate Students


I am a medical anthropologist interested in how cultures of biomedicine, science, and technology shape ideas, practices, and materialities of gender, health, and the reproductive body. I have conducted ethnographic research within the global maternal health community, development NGOs in Senegal, and amongst midwives and their clients in Canada. I am the co-editor, along with Lauren Wallace and Katerini Storeng, of the forthcoming volume Anthropologies of Global Maternal and Reproductive Health: from policy spaces to sites of practice (Springer, 2021).

More...

Maternal Health in Senegal

In 2016 I spent six months collaborating with an NGO based in Dakar, Senegal that delivers maternal health programs in rural and remote areas of the country. The purpose of the research was to better understand the logic underlying their interventions and the experiences of local health professionals and community members they affect.

Global Reproductive Health

My research in this area traces the development of international policy since the 1980s to promote safe motherhood and reduce maternal mortality. Drawing on visual, documentary, and narrative data from key governmental, NGO and UN organizations, I am orienting this project around key debates and emerging tools in the effort to address maternal mortality in low resource settings: the controversial place of traditional birth attendants in maternal health; the production and uses of photography and film in international campaigns as affective, aesthetic information about maternal mortality; and the emergence of new biomedical-technical solutions embedded in feminist politics around reproductive health. This project intersects with my research in Senegal mentioned above.

Midwifery in Canada

My 2007 book, At Work in the Field of Birth: Midwifery Narratives of Nature, Tradition and Home (Vanderbilt University Press), is an ethnographic account of contemporary midwifery in Ontario in the wake of its historic transition from the margins as a grassroots social movement to a profession in the public health care system in the 1990s. The book describes the contested place of this ‘new midwifery’ vis a vis its own foundational concepts of nature, tradition, and home as well as in relation to biomedical knowledge, institutions, and technologies. My theoretical focus in this work is the on going power of ‘the natural’ to orient the contemporary project of midwifery. Several new projects on the culture of midwifery are at various stages of development: Maternal Citizens and Midwifery Care considers the emergence of diversity as a new professional value and set of practices within midwifery; Midwifery as Consumption reads the commonplace (and politicized) reference to “midwifery consumers” through the lens of consumption theory and literature in medical anthropology that sees the pursuit of health as an “aesthetic project of the self”; and The Scientization of the Midwifery Body will follow midwives’ increasing participation in clinical research (as part of the trend towards evidence based medicine) and explore its impact on both the professional body of midwifery and the maternal bodies of the women in their care

Research Interests

Anthropology , Medical Anthropology, Anthropology of Reproduction , Global Health , Senegal, Midwifery and Childbirth in North America.

Current Research Projects


    See more
Maternal Health in Senegal

    Summary:

    This is a multi year ethnographic reseach project, a collaboration with an NGO based in Dakar, Senegal that delivers maternal health programs in rural and remote areas of the country. The purpose of the research is to better understand the logic underlying global maternal health interventions and the experiences of local health professionals and community members they affect.

    See more
    Role: PI

Scaling Up and Counting Down

    Summary:

    This research project traces the development of global policy since the 1980s to promote safe motherhood and reduce maternal mortality. Drawing on visual, documentary, and narrative data from key governmental, NGO and UN organizations, I am orienting this project around key debates and emerging tools in the effort to address maternal mortality in low resource settings: the controversial place of traditional birth attendants in maternal health; the production and uses of photography and film in international campaigns as affective, aesthetic information about maternal mortality; and the emergence of new biomedical-technical solutions embedded in feminist politics around reproductive health. This project intersects with my research in Senegal mentioned above.

    See more
The Making of Informed Choice in Midwifery in Canada

    Summary:

    This project looks closely at what I call the making of informed choice in midwifery in Canada, with a focus on the province of Ontario -- one of my long term ethnographic field sites -- exploring its changing meaning in theory and practice as one of the central tenets of the midwifery profession.

    See more
    Role: PI

Books

Publication
Year

2007 At Work in the Field of Birth: Midwifery Narratives of Nature, Tradition and Home. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.

2007

Book Chapters

Publication
Year

2004 "Tradition as a Political Symbol in the New Midwifery in Ontario." In I L Bourgeault, C Benoit, and R Davis-Floyd (eds.). Reconceiving Midwifery: The New Canadian Model. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press. Pp 46-66.

2004

2012 “Natural Birth at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century: Implications for Gender.” In C Brettell and C Sargent (eds.). Gender in Cross Cultural Perspective (Sixth Edition). Boston, MA: Pearson.


Journal Articles

Publication
Year

2020. “Misoprostol: the life story of a life-saving drug.” Science, Technology & Human Values. (1-26) https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243920916781.

2020

2019 "The Image World of Maternal Mortality: Visual economies of hope and aspiration in global campaigns to reduce maternal mortality." Humanity. An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development. 10(2):278-285.

2019

2019. with Gorgui Sene Diallo. “Socio cultural contextual factors of an mhealth application to improve maternal health in Senegal: an ethnographic study looking at contextual factors of a mobile health intervention.” BMC Reproductive Health. 16: 141.

2019

2018 “The Making of Informed Choice in Ontario Midwifery: A Feminist Experiment in Care.” Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry. 42(2): 278-294.

2018

2017 “Why ethnography matters in global health.” Journal of Global Health. 7(2): 1-4.

2017

2016 "The Legacy of Midwifery and the Women’s Health Movement in Contemporary Discourses of Patient Choice and Empowerment in Mainstream Biomedicine." Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice. 15(1): 43-50

2016

2011 The cultural evolution of natural birth. The Lancet. 378 (July 30): 394-395.

2011

2006 “Gender Expectations: Natural Bodies and Natural Births in the New Midwifery in Ontario.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 20(2): 235-256.

2006

2006 Bourgeault, IL, Luce, J, & MacDonald, M. “The caring dilemma in midwifery: balancing the needs of midwives and clients in a continuity of care model of practice.” Community, Work and Family. 9(4): 398-406.

2006

2001 "The Politics of Representation: Doing and Writing Interested Research on Midwifery." Resources for Feminist Research. 28(1/2): 151-168.

2001

2009 MacDonald, M and IL Bourgeault. “The Ontario Midwifery Model of Care.” In R Davis-Floyd and L Barclay (eds.). Birth Models that Work. Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp 89-118.

2001 "Postmodern Negotiations with Medical Technology: The Role of Midwifery Clients in the New Midwifery in Canada." Medical Anthropology. 20: 245-276.


Creative Works

Publication
Year

http://somatosphere.net/2013/07/the-biopolitics-of-maternal-mortality-anthropological-observations-from-the-women-deliver-conference-in-kuala-lumpur.html


Approach to Teaching


I am not currently teaching undergraduate courses. Previous Undergraduate Courses include: ANTH 2170 6.0 Sex, Gender, and the Body (F/W 2016-17)

ANTH 4430 6.0 Anthropology of Reproduction, Personhood, and Citizenship
ANTH 4110 6.0 Development of Theory in Anthropology
ANTH 3330 6.0 Health and Illness in Cross-Cultural Perspective
ANTH 3230 6.0 Women, Culture, and Society
ANTH 3200 3.0 International Health

Graduate Teaching
I advise graduate students at the MA and PhD level, who are interested in the anthropology of medicine, science and technology, global health, reproduction, gender, and feminist ethnography and theory.


Current Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall/Winter 2020 GS/ANTH5000 6.0 A Graduate Seminar in Ethnographic Researc SEMR


Upcoming Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall/Winter 2020 GS/ANTH5000 6.0 A Graduate Seminar in Ethnographic Researc SEMR


I am a medical anthropologist interested in how cultures of biomedicine, science, and technology shape ideas, practices, and materialities of gender, health, and the reproductive body. I have conducted ethnographic research within the global maternal health community, development NGOs in Senegal, and amongst midwives and their clients in Canada. I am the co-editor, along with Lauren Wallace and Katerini Storeng, of the forthcoming volume Anthropologies of Global Maternal and Reproductive Health: from policy spaces to sites of practice (Springer, 2021).

Maternal Health in Senegal

In 2016 I spent six months collaborating with an NGO based in Dakar, Senegal that delivers maternal health programs in rural and remote areas of the country. The purpose of the research was to better understand the logic underlying their interventions and the experiences of local health professionals and community members they affect.

Global Reproductive Health

My research in this area traces the development of international policy since the 1980s to promote safe motherhood and reduce maternal mortality. Drawing on visual, documentary, and narrative data from key governmental, NGO and UN organizations, I am orienting this project around key debates and emerging tools in the effort to address maternal mortality in low resource settings: the controversial place of traditional birth attendants in maternal health; the production and uses of photography and film in international campaigns as affective, aesthetic information about maternal mortality; and the emergence of new biomedical-technical solutions embedded in feminist politics around reproductive health. This project intersects with my research in Senegal mentioned above.

Midwifery in Canada

My 2007 book, At Work in the Field of Birth: Midwifery Narratives of Nature, Tradition and Home (Vanderbilt University Press), is an ethnographic account of contemporary midwifery in Ontario in the wake of its historic transition from the margins as a grassroots social movement to a profession in the public health care system in the 1990s. The book describes the contested place of this ‘new midwifery’ vis a vis its own foundational concepts of nature, tradition, and home as well as in relation to biomedical knowledge, institutions, and technologies. My theoretical focus in this work is the on going power of ‘the natural’ to orient the contemporary project of midwifery. Several new projects on the culture of midwifery are at various stages of development: Maternal Citizens and Midwifery Care considers the emergence of diversity as a new professional value and set of practices within midwifery; Midwifery as Consumption reads the commonplace (and politicized) reference to “midwifery consumers” through the lens of consumption theory and literature in medical anthropology that sees the pursuit of health as an “aesthetic project of the self”; and The Scientization of the Midwifery Body will follow midwives’ increasing participation in clinical research (as part of the trend towards evidence based medicine) and explore its impact on both the professional body of midwifery and the maternal bodies of the women in their care

Research Interests

Anthropology , Medical Anthropology, Anthropology of Reproduction , Global Health , Senegal, Midwifery and Childbirth in North America.

Current Research Projects


Maternal Health in Senegal

    Summary:

    This is a multi year ethnographic reseach project, a collaboration with an NGO based in Dakar, Senegal that delivers maternal health programs in rural and remote areas of the country. The purpose of the research is to better understand the logic underlying global maternal health interventions and the experiences of local health professionals and community members they affect.

    Role: PI

Scaling Up and Counting Down

    Summary:

    This research project traces the development of global policy since the 1980s to promote safe motherhood and reduce maternal mortality. Drawing on visual, documentary, and narrative data from key governmental, NGO and UN organizations, I am orienting this project around key debates and emerging tools in the effort to address maternal mortality in low resource settings: the controversial place of traditional birth attendants in maternal health; the production and uses of photography and film in international campaigns as affective, aesthetic information about maternal mortality; and the emergence of new biomedical-technical solutions embedded in feminist politics around reproductive health. This project intersects with my research in Senegal mentioned above.

The Making of Informed Choice in Midwifery in Canada

    Summary:

    This project looks closely at what I call the making of informed choice in midwifery in Canada, with a focus on the province of Ontario -- one of my long term ethnographic field sites -- exploring its changing meaning in theory and practice as one of the central tenets of the midwifery profession.

    Role: PI

All Publications


Book Chapters

Publication
Year

2004 "Tradition as a Political Symbol in the New Midwifery in Ontario." In I L Bourgeault, C Benoit, and R Davis-Floyd (eds.). Reconceiving Midwifery: The New Canadian Model. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press. Pp 46-66.

2004

2012 “Natural Birth at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century: Implications for Gender.” In C Brettell and C Sargent (eds.). Gender in Cross Cultural Perspective (Sixth Edition). Boston, MA: Pearson.


Books

Publication
Year

2007 At Work in the Field of Birth: Midwifery Narratives of Nature, Tradition and Home. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.

2007

Journal Articles

Publication
Year

2020. “Misoprostol: the life story of a life-saving drug.” Science, Technology & Human Values. (1-26) https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243920916781.

2020

2019 "The Image World of Maternal Mortality: Visual economies of hope and aspiration in global campaigns to reduce maternal mortality." Humanity. An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development. 10(2):278-285.

2019

2019. with Gorgui Sene Diallo. “Socio cultural contextual factors of an mhealth application to improve maternal health in Senegal: an ethnographic study looking at contextual factors of a mobile health intervention.” BMC Reproductive Health. 16: 141.

2019

2018 “The Making of Informed Choice in Ontario Midwifery: A Feminist Experiment in Care.” Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry. 42(2): 278-294.

2018

2017 “Why ethnography matters in global health.” Journal of Global Health. 7(2): 1-4.

2017

2016 "The Legacy of Midwifery and the Women’s Health Movement in Contemporary Discourses of Patient Choice and Empowerment in Mainstream Biomedicine." Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice. 15(1): 43-50

2016

2011 The cultural evolution of natural birth. The Lancet. 378 (July 30): 394-395.

2011

2006 “Gender Expectations: Natural Bodies and Natural Births in the New Midwifery in Ontario.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 20(2): 235-256.

2006

2006 Bourgeault, IL, Luce, J, & MacDonald, M. “The caring dilemma in midwifery: balancing the needs of midwives and clients in a continuity of care model of practice.” Community, Work and Family. 9(4): 398-406.

2006

2001 "The Politics of Representation: Doing and Writing Interested Research on Midwifery." Resources for Feminist Research. 28(1/2): 151-168.

2001

2009 MacDonald, M and IL Bourgeault. “The Ontario Midwifery Model of Care.” In R Davis-Floyd and L Barclay (eds.). Birth Models that Work. Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp 89-118.

2001 "Postmodern Negotiations with Medical Technology: The Role of Midwifery Clients in the New Midwifery in Canada." Medical Anthropology. 20: 245-276.


Creative Works

Publication
Year

http://somatosphere.net/2013/07/the-biopolitics-of-maternal-mortality-anthropological-observations-from-the-women-deliver-conference-in-kuala-lumpur.html


Approach to Teaching


I am not currently teaching undergraduate courses. Previous Undergraduate Courses include: ANTH 2170 6.0 Sex, Gender, and the Body (F/W 2016-17)

ANTH 4430 6.0 Anthropology of Reproduction, Personhood, and Citizenship
ANTH 4110 6.0 Development of Theory in Anthropology
ANTH 3330 6.0 Health and Illness in Cross-Cultural Perspective
ANTH 3230 6.0 Women, Culture, and Society
ANTH 3200 3.0 International Health

Graduate Teaching
I advise graduate students at the MA and PhD level, who are interested in the anthropology of medicine, science and technology, global health, reproduction, gender, and feminist ethnography and theory.


Current Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall/Winter 2020 GS/ANTH5000 6.0 A Graduate Seminar in Ethnographic Researc SEMR


Upcoming Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall/Winter 2020 GS/ANTH5000 6.0 A Graduate Seminar in Ethnographic Researc SEMR