The American way of birth as described in “Ritual in the Hospital”, and “The
Anthropologist as a Mother”, are not really social rites of passage, however we do
practice certain “rituals”.
The overall birth process tends to be all technological.
author in “The Anthropologist as a Mother” also points out that the American world is
made for adults and not children, not really incorporating them into society.
In “Ritual in the Hospital”, American “rituals” are described during child birth. In
a hospital almost every pregnant mother has fetal monitors, epidurals, sonograms, a
gown, and a wheel chair. Up until the child is born, it is common to see mothers going to
the doctor for regular checkups to see if the baby is ok. Then at the time of birth, the
mother is taken away from the husband in a wheel chair. Then the mother is placed in a
gown and usually 26 hours later goes through labor. Monitors may be hooked up, and a
synthetic hormone may be used in order to speed up the laboring process, because time is
very important to American society. Then of course the child is born, the umbilical is cut,
and eventually the mother is wheel chaired out.
In “When Does Life Begin?”, personhood is described as a biological and
acceptance into society, when the infant becomes a human being. In America, the baby
becomes a person right out of the womb. In other societies however, the baby does not
gain social status until after a stage of limininality. They are then accepted into society.
This is most common among Non-Western Societies.
The “liminality” of the newborn described in “When Does Life Begin?” is the
transitional stage of the newborn to be incorporated into society. In America for instance,
newborns are usually kept away from danger, away from the outside. It is a time when
the mother can be come more intimate with the child. After this special bond, and
seclusion from society, the baby is ready to be presented.