|dc.description.abstract||Maternity is central to the development of healthy populations (biopower), capitalism, nation building, imperialism and globalisation. Liberal feminist discourses have mobilised concepts such as empowerment, choice and control to decolonise patriarchal practices of maternity. These discourses have instituted the knowledgeable and empowered maternity consumer who takes charge of her experience of childbirth. However, the uptake of these discourses into the public health system has unintentionally recolonised the birthing experiences of visibly different mothers.
Using Foucauldian, feminist and postcolonial methodologies, this thesis investigates how the ‘empowering’ practices and structures of maternity can be normalising and disciplining, acting to reinforce the centrality of whiteness. A discourse analytical approach describes the historical and contemporary relations of power through which discourses of migrant maternity are constituted through speech and practice. Foucault’s theorisation of diffused and productive power implicates nursing and midwifery practices in modern state goals to regulate and maximise the efforts of individuals and the social body. The neoliberal internalisation of technologies of disciplinary control by hyper-responsible ‘good’ mothers translates the institutional goals of public health into the ‘positive choices’ of individuals— a moral discourse where non-Pākehā migrant mothers are found to be wanting by the public health system.
These theoretical findings were examined in three New Zealand focus groups, where both Pākehā /white migrant mothers and Plunket nurses drew on liberal and neoliberal discourses of maternity, while for Korean mothers biomedical and cultural discourses provide alternative understandings. In response to this misalignment, nurses and midwives take up normalising, disciplining and acculturating roles in order to socialise migrant mothers into the role of an ideal and implicitly white maternal service user. When normalisation is challenged, culturalist discourses allow professionals to shift responsibility for the misalignment from institution to mother, in a clear departure from nursing’s ethic of patient-centred care. These findings demonstrate that the liberal foundations of nursing and midwifery discourses are inadequate for meeting the health needs of diverse maternal groups. In response, the thesis advocates for the extension of the theory and practice of cultural safety to critique nursing’s AngloEuropean knowledge base, extending the discipline’s intellectual and political
mandate with the aim of providing effective support to diverse groups of mothers.||en_NZ