"Akouchman ak Rezistans: Lòpital Pa Prizon" | Birthing Resistance: Stories of Hospital-Prison

Alissa Jordan's picture

Full version of post in "Conversations" at the Center for Experimental Ethnography,  "Birthing Resistance | Akouchman ak Rezistans," (abbreviated & edited version below)

by Alissa Jordan 

Kisa "detansyon lòpital" la ye, epi kisa istwa pa li? Ki kalite silans egziste alantou praktis sa? Kisa silans sa gen pou fè ak istwa de  kapitalis rasyal,  enjistis repwodiktif,  epi relasyon twouble a ki egziste istorikman devan swen ak rechèch medikal ak pep Ayisyen an? Epi kijan manman yo ak fanmi yo reziste kont presyon sa yo lè yo pataje manje andan klink la, ede lòt pasyan chape tèt yo, oubyen akouche lakay yo? 

Mwen ta renmen prezante yon dokimante odyo, "Akouchman ak Rezistans" ki gen pou fè ak yon praktis ki rele detansyon lopital---epi kijan praktis sa melanje swen sante ak karseralite pou manman ki akouche lòpital. Li prezante istwa di de manman Ayisyen, Naomi ak Likna, nan pwòp mo pa yo, epi yon mis ki reflechi sou praktis sa nan lòpital misyon yo an Ayiti (epi lòt kòmantatè Ayisyen). 

Dokimantè sa a konbine rakonte istwa kreyatif, narasyon, konvèsasyon, ak analiz kritik yo pou konprann eksperyans di fanm ak fanmi Ayisyen lè moun akouche lòpital epi yo pa ka peye sa yo dwe. 

Praktis di anprizonnen manman andan lòpital egziste nan plis pase 52 peyi nan mond lan. Li plis afekte fanm nwa, fanm natif, ak fanm di koule, ak tout bebe yo, lè yo akouche lòpital. Men—atravè lemonn—manman, fanmi, ak jounalis gen tan konbat li kou yon lenjistis grav. Nan istwa nouvèl lokal yo, an Madhya Pradesh an India jiska nan Bogotà, Colombia, anpil jounalis lokal gen tan denonse praktis sa nan nouvel. Yo eklere istwa manman yo, ki konn pase mwa oswa ane nan kaptivite klinik la. Men, nan kwen akademic yo, eksperyans manman yo preske envisib... 

De epidemyolojis ki pale sou detansyon lòpital se Karen Cowgill epi Abel Ntambue  (2019). Yo rele praktis sa yon “sekre louvri” nan sante piblik mondyal.  Kukudji Yumba  Pascal (2018), yon bioetisyen epi yon istoryen nan University of Lubumbashi, eksplike ke praktis sa te kòmanse dapre ane 1987, le UNICEF ak WHO ekri Inisyativ Bamako epi plizye peyi restriktire swen sante pou l ta vin pi pwofitab. 

Pwoje sa incluye yon sit web, www.birthresistance.com, ki se yon platform plizyè lang ki ankouraje diskisyon, ki pataje rechech, epi ki anplifye istwa pasyan yo epi estrateji yo. Li genyen konvesasyon ak ti bout odyo an franse, kreyol, ak angle.

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Birthing Resistance: Stories of Hospital-Prison

What is hospital detention and what are its histories? What kind of silences are being kept around the practice? How are these silences related to deeper histories of  racial capitalism, reproductive injustice, and the fraught historical relationship between medical care and research and the Haitian people? And how have mothers like Likna and Naomi, and their families, challenged it by sharing resources in captivity, helping others escape, and giving birth at home?

The audio documentary, "Birthing Resistance" in English investigates the intersection of care and carcerality in the practice of "hospital detentions". It combines creative ethnographic storytelling, birth stories, and analytic reflection to understand the emergence of “hospital-prisons” and medical detention in Haiti and around the world, focusing on two mothers—Likna and Naomi—and their experiences of birthing in Euro-American mission hospitals where they were then imprisoned for months. Locked inside with their infants, hospitals leverage Naomi, Likna, and their companions as corporeal collateral to force families and communities to pay outstanding debts for obstetric surgeries. 

Called global public health’s “open secret” (Cowgill & Ntatumbe 2019) the practice of hospital detention is widespread across hospitals in well over 52 countries of the world. It overwhelmingly impacts black women, indigenous women, and women of color and their babies during birth journeys. In spite of its ubiquity, the amount of academic articles written on the practice could fit in a single hand, while local journalists from Kinshasa to Nairobi, and Madhya Pradesh to Bogota have published volumes of accounts on mothers (and others) experiences of clinical captivity. 

Drawing on commentaries and first-person storytelling by Haitian mothers, a Haitian human rights organizer, a senior AP health journalist, and an activist nurse,  both English and Creole versions of the documentary attend to the everyday strategies of resistance that women, families, and organizers wield against the practice. 

The project also includes an interactive website, www.birthresistance.com, envisioned as a multilingual platform for promoting discussion, sharing research, and amplifying patient stories and strategies. It features audio commentary by experts on the practice including mothers, journalists, academics, and activists.