Activism and Patient Vulnerability: Resistance to Medical Authority and Regulation in Russia
The paper analyzes the opposition and adaptation of Russian patients, independent perinatal specialists, and professional human rights activists to normative regulation of obstetric care, medical authorities, and the practices of the Russian maternity hospital. During my ethnographic research, I have collected personal stories about the clashes of women in labor and their assistants (primarily doulas) with the medical system, stories of collective and individual appeals to authorities, and protest flash mobs. The article presents the history of the transformation of the Russian system of obstetrics and the development of grassroots movements by midwives and doulas. It outlines the features of human rights and perinatal protest discourses and identifies the tactics of legal and vernacular resistance and non-resistance to medical authorities encountered during fieldwork.
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