Jessica Dailey

Jessi Dailey2nd Photo Web

I am a Ph.D. student in the department of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. I hold a B.A. in anthropology from Sonoma State University (2014), and an M.A. in sociocultural anthropology, with a special focus in medical anthropology, from San Francisco State University (2019). My work focuses on human reproduction—specifically, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and related medical care. My research interests concern how reproductive care and practice create a space which connects large-scale social, political, and historical forces, and individual bodies, families, and lives—and as such, provide a means to critically view and better understand the movements of power through contemporary societies.

My work on my Master’s Degree at San Francisco State focused on alternative forms of prenatal and birth care in Sonoma County, California. I conducted original ethnographic fieldwork among a small community who actively sought out nonbiomedical forms of  care, including midwife-attended homebirth. The results of this research led to a series of interesting considerations about how medical decision-making that favors non-dominant forms of care can express resistance to medical power and authority, convey one’s class position, and also demonstrate one’s belonging to a group.

At the University of Notre Dame, I intend to continue to focus my research on maternity care. It is my hope that my research will provide a useful exploration into the complicated social contexts which mediate access to, and experiences with, pregnancy and birth care. Such anthropological perspectives could serve to uncover some of the biosocial connections between health outcomes during birth, and patient autonomy and empowerment within medical care—which might, in turn, potentially illuminate pathways by which to improve birth care in a broad sense.

Contact: 288 Corbett Family Hall, jdailey3@nd.edu