The Daughters of Hariti: Childbirth and Female Healers in South and Southeast Asia

Edited by Santi Rozario and Geoffrey Samuel


Hariti is the ancient Indian goddess of childbirth and women healers, known at one time throughout South and Southeast Asia from India and Nepal to Bali. The studies in this book looks at her “daughters” today, women midwives and healers in many different cultures in South and Southeast Asia. In some places they are skilled and respected professionals. Elsewhere, their knowledge and skills are disregarded and they are regarded as low-status menials because of their association with the “pollution” of birth. Throughout the region, their competence and ability is constantly challenged by the biomedical establishment. Despite this, their knowledge and skills remain central to the birthing process for many Asian women. The variety of their roles and social status, apart from its interest to Asian specialists, forms an illuminating contrast to the history of birth and women healers in Western societies.



The Daughters of Hariti Today Geoffrey Samuel

Part One: South Asia

“We Know How to Do These Things”: Birth in a Newar Village Barbara Johnson

Knowing All the Gods: Grandmothers, God Families, and Women Healers in Nepal Linda Iltis

Contaminating States: Midwifery, Childbearing and the State in Rural North India Patricia Jeffery, Roger Jeffery, Andrew Lyon

Hawa, Gola and Mother-in-Law's Big Toe: On Understanding Dais' Imagery of the Female Body Janet Chawla

Midwives among Others: Knowledges of Healing and the Politics of Emotions in Rajasthan, Northwest India Maya Unnithan-Kumar

The Healer on the Margins: The Dai in Rural Bangladesh Santi Rozario

“Baby-Friendly” Hospitals and Bad Mothers: Manoeuvring Development in the Post-Partum Period in Tamilnadu, South India Cecilia Van Hollen

Tibetan and Indian Ideas of Birth Pollution: Similarities and Contrasts Santi Rozario and Geoffrey Samuel

Part Two: Southeast Asia

The Demise of Birth Attendants in Northeast Thailand: Embodying Tradition in Modern Times Andrea Whittaker

Beranak and Bekindu': Discourses of Risk and Strength in Childbirth and Post-Partum Practice among Iban Communities Amanda Harris

Of Paraji and Bidan: Hierarchies of Knowledge among Sundanese Midwives Lynda Newland

Embracing Modernity: Transformations in Sasak Confinement Practices Cynthia L. Hunter

Publication Details

The Daughters of Hariti: Childbirth and Female Healers in South and Southeast Asia. Edited by Santi Rozario and Geoffrey Samuel. Routledge, London and New York. Published 10th May 2002.

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GBS Updated 21/05/2002