From tradition to institutionalisation: The development of the postnatal care centres industry in Taiwan

Key information

7:45 pm to 9:15 pm
SOAS Main Building

About this event

While the practice of attending a postpartum care centre becomes common in Taiwan, where, recently about 60% of mothers in great Taipei area attended one after giving birth, the related research remains nonexistent. Based upon an ethnographic investigation, this explorative study focuses on 15 yuezi zhongxin (月子中心) in Taiwan and analyse the institutionalisation of postpartum care and its articulation with parents’ anxiety in nowadays global Taiwan. While the tradition of yuezi is a longtime established practice, Taiwan is a pioneer in its institutionalisation through yuezi centres. These centres witness a deep change regarding childbirth, parenting and intergenerational investment.

The paper will discuss three changes and their implications. First, we went from the management of the perinatal period by the private sphere to institutions’ taking over. The direct affective personal interactions of yuezi tradition are replaced by an emphasis of an expert discourse based on professionalisation, medicalisation, and technological surveillance. Second, this step from private to public showcases Taiwanese parents’ardent desire to invest “from the beginning” in expert care for the precious child in a context of dramatically low birth rates. These centres embodied an entangled knot of technologisation of reproduction and commodification of parents’ anxiety and aspiration for their children. Third, those institutions also witness an increasingly individualism among Taiwanese women and a redefinition of motherhood. The emphasis of mothers’ well-being, including their postpartum silhouette, modifies the conventional female expectations based on self-sacrifice.  It is these important shifts that will be discussed in this paper.

Speaker's biography

Dr Amélie Keyser-Verreault

Dr Amélie Keyser-Verreault is a resident fellow at the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan at Tübingen University. She holds a doctoral degree in sociocultural anthropology from Laval University (Canada). Dr Keyser-Verreault research focus on body politics, gender and sexualities with an emphasis onneoliberalism, beauty politics, maternity, aging, and resistance in East Asia. She also hasa deep interest in qualitative art-based, decolonial and intersectional methodologies. At Tübingen University, Dr Keyser-Verreault is the lead of the Taiwan as Pioneer (TAP) research project and her TAP project focus on the modernisation and institutionalisation of postnatal care, digital parenting and LGBTQ+ parenting in Taiwan. Her work has been published in academic journals such as Ethnography, European Journal of Cultural Studies, Feminism & Psychology, Taiwan Journal of Women’s and Gender Studies (女學學誌) and the Taiwan Journal of Anthropology (台灣人類學刊).