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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Midwives and Medical Men in the Cape Colony before 1860
Author:Deacon, HarrietISNI
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic terms:South Africa
The Cape
Great Britain
health personnel
Women's Issues
History and Exploration
Health and Nutrition
Labor and Employment
Health, Nutrition, and Medicine
Sex Roles
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/183599
Abstract:This article explores the cultural and medical role of midwives in the Cape Colony, South Africa, during the first half of the 19th century by examining the few personal records of these midwives that have survived and by investigating their legal, social and economic status vis--vis a more visible and vocal group, licensed doctors. In the early 19th-century Cape, doctors were interested in practising midwifery but they did not publicly discredit midwives' ability to attend normal births, in contrast to doctors in Britain and America. Conflict between doctors and midwives was reduced by three main features of the Cape medical market. The first was the presence of an influential, continentally trained group of doctors in Cape Town who pressed for midwifery training in the early 19th century; the second was a culturally and regionally differentiated pattern of midwifery consultation which favoured the employment of man-midwives ('accoucheurs', usually doctors) in urban areas and midwives in poor and rural areas; the third was a focus by doctors and officials on the inadequacies of 'untrained' black midwives which may have deflected attention away from criticisms of the midwifery profession per se. By the end of the 19th century, however, a time of professional medical overcrowding and rising Afrikaner nationalism, the criticisms formerly directed mainly at black midwives were extended to poor white midwives as well. Notes, ref., sum.