This study of women in contemporary Turkey examines the effects of modernization on Turkish women's attitudes towards childbirth. I rely on existing literature to present a cross- cultural overview of childbirth beliefs and practices, and to provide the social-historical context of Turkey's transformation into a secular state. I approach my study of women's attitude toward childbirth by a qualitative method of interviewing. I interviewed seven urban women in Ankara and categorized the reoccurring central cultural themes in these interviews in my analysis. These themes are rural/urban and domestic/public contradictions, redefinition of religion and gender roles, and body power/divination. Hospitalization of births replaced female midwives with male midwives and male doctors. I examine the impacts of the transformation of childbirth from the domestic sphere, where it was a women's event and controlled by women, into the public sphere, where men control and constrain the female body. This transformation is the outcome of the application of advances in technology. To understand this transformation, I explain the social and political events that were occurring in the last thirty years, and in particular the emergence of the feminist movement in the 1980s, which opened the doors for women of Turkey, both secular and Islamists, to voice their opinions. This period is vital in understanding the seven women's responses because it was during that time that they gave birth to their children. I report their voices and study their interpretation of their childbirth experience.


Frese, Pamela R.


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

Available for download on Thursday, January 01, 2150

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© Copyright 2004 Yasameen Behdad