Childbirth in Early Modern Spain

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Childbirth calls for interpretation and while birth is interpreted, crucial issues of culture are worked out:

  1. How is life interpreted in its formation and first stages?
  2. In which ways does childbirth shape gender relations? How does it affect the status of women – as mothers or as female professionals – in society?
  3. How is childbirth related to wider cultural forms and concepts, as well as to the definition of personal, cultural and religious identities?

Thus research will concentrate on:

  • Cultural dimensions of medicine;
  • The debate on midwives;
  • Debates within the church on Immaculate Conception, the obligations of fathers, emergency baptism and cultural strain between Christians and Moriscos;
  • Legal debates on the duration of pregnancy, the prevention of fraud and posthumous birth;
  • Myth, religion and fiction as frames of interpretation;
  • Semantics of childbirth and its implicit meanings;
  • The symbolic values of the birthing scene;
  • Legal practice: violence, recognition of paternity, cultural conflicts, midwives as witnesses or accomplices; the consequences of posthumous birth;