The Visibility/Invisibility of Pain: a Feminist Reading of Labor Pain Management in Contemporary China


Luce/ACLS Travel Grants in China Studies


Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies


Using gender as the analytical framework, this research examines the recent history of labor pain management in childbirth in contemporary China, and how both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical approaches participate in the medicalization of childbirth and the shaping of state discourse around reproduction. The limited access to labor anesthesia in China exemplifies the gendered experience of pain that positions women’s birthing bodies at the intersection of state population policies, development projects, and social discourse around reproduction as a feminized labor. This project also discusses how the recent attempt to promote labor analgesia reveals the state’s pronatalist ambition in response to the dropping birth rate following the termination of the One-Child Policy.