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Reproducing the British CaribbeanSex, Gender, and Population Politics after Slavery$
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Juanita De Barros

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781469616056

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469616056.001.0001

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Grannies, Midwives, and Colonial Encounters

Grannies, Midwives, and Colonial Encounters

(p.67) chapter three Grannies, Midwives, and Colonial Encounters
Reproducing the British Caribbean

Juanita De Barros

University of North Carolina Press

In the years after the end of slavery, the image of the “granny” midwife, described as practitioners of bush medicine, persisted in the British Caribbean. Traditional midwives were considered ignorant and superstitious women who inadvertently killed newborns and their mothers. In late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Jamaica, Guyana, and Barbados, officials deemed it necessary to replace the grannies with formally trained and certified midwives. As a result, race and class tensions arose. This chapter explores the introduction of infant and maternal welfare measures, including midwife training programs, as part of the Caribbean response to concerns about population health and size. White, British women were recruited to train granny midwives about modern, hygienic methods of childbirth and child rearing.

Keywords:   bush medicine, Caribbean, midwives, Jamaica, Guyana, grannies, maternal welfare, midwife training programs, child rearing, childbirth

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