Breaking the silence : stories of parteras empíricas in Nicaragua
This master’s thesis presents the stories of Doña Eugdocia and Doña Carmen: two parteras empíricas living and working in the area of Estelí, Nicaragua. The stories were constructed from interviews with the parteras empíricas and are influenced by testimonial life history research methods. The stories, complemented by interviews with Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) trainers, locally available training manuals, and interviews with other parteras empíricas function as a counter-narrative to global (TBA) discourse revealing the important but little understood contributions these women make to their respective communities and health care systems. The stories demonstrate important parallels between the parteras empíricas’ narrowing role in Nicaragua and global TBA discourse regarding their practices. The stories also dispel the notion of the “traditional” as signifying incapable of change. Instead, considering the parteras empíricas story within a postcolonial framework using Jordan’s (an anthropologist) conceptualization of “authoritative knowledge” demonstrates that the parteras empíricas positioning of biomedicine as authoritative is a survival mechanism and not a devaluation of their own epistemological orientations.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
DepartmentCommunity Health and Epidemiology
ProgramCommunity Health and Epidemiology
CommitteeDickson, Gerri; Abonyi, Sylvia
Copyright DateApril 2010
traditional birth attendant