Studying maternal health in a hill-village.

(i) The first assignment is ‘a reflexive analysis of an open-ended interview’ on one of the following topics: suffering, madness, poverty or wellbeing. This assignment accounts for 30% of the module. It should be approximately 1500 words long and submitted no later than Tuesday 10th November 2015.

: What is ethnography? Why does fieldwork play a central role in anthropological research, and what does it involve? What is participant observation? What is distinctive about anthropological research?

How do you keep an open mind? How do you make the familiar strange? How do you know what to look for?

Studying maternal health in a hill-village.

Nepal is one of the South Asian countries where giving birth has been described as especially hazardous. There, as elsewhere in the global south, very high maternal mortality rates are reported, and biomedical approaches promoted as the means to achieving the reductions that are needed. With this information in mind, I decided to undertake Master’s research there in 2011, basing myself in a hill-village in Central Nepal. My aim was to explore how women and biomedically-trained health workers negotiated any ritual purity and pollution beliefs and/or practices that might be held in relation to childbirth. Drawing on this experience and its outcomes, as well as those of my time as an MSc student, this presentation aims to address some of the issues related to finding a topic and locating a fieldsite.

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