Robbie Davis-Floyd



Robbie Davis-Floyd works primarily in the anthropology of reproduction, conducting research and publishing in the areas of midwifery, childbirth, and obstetrics. She has also worked in the anthropology of biomedicine, integrative medicine, ritual and gender, and technology and science.

Research & Work

Childbirth: Obstetrics and Midwifery
Through the paradigm of the “technocratic model” of obstetric care and childbirth, Davis-Floyd has had a great deal of influence in anthropology of reproduction circles, as well as in sociology, women’s studies, and midwifery, beginning with her seminal work American Birth as a Rite of Passage. The technocratic model problematizes current obstetrics and childbirth as highly medicalized, technology-driven processes that can serve to disempower women and lead to the perception – among physicians and laypersons alike – that pregnancy and childbirth require medical oversight and, often, intervention. During additional research conducted over the course of many years, Davis-Floyd also discovered that many (though certainly not all) women have a favorable view of technology and technological intervention during childbirth, a viewpoint that serves to reinforce the legitimacy of medicine and technology as sources of authoritative knowledge and power. In addition, obstetric procedures serve as rituals for pregnant women and healthcare providers, and serve to “enhance courage not only for obstetricians and nurses, but also for the women themselves – being hooked up to some of the highest technologies society has invented gives many American women the feeling that they are being well taken care of, that they are safe. A reassuring cultural order is imposed on the otherwise frightening and potentially out-of-control chaos of nature.”[1]
Davis-Floyd also examined the role of midwives in America and Mexico, focusing on their identities, ideologies, and practices.


Robbie Davis-Floyd was born in Casper, Wyoming in 1951. She received both her M.A. (1974) and Ph.D. (1986) in Anthropology/Folklore at the University of Texas, Austin. Her dissertation, Birth as an American Rite of Passage, became her first book and was published in 1992, receiving critical and professional acclaim.
Throughout her career, Davis-Floyd has been involved as both a teacher (lecturer, adjunct professor) and researcher for a number of universities, including Case Western Reserve University, University of Texas, and Trinity University. Currently Davis-Floyd is serving as Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin and is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. She is also a member of the board of the International MotherBaby Childbirth Organization and serves as Editor for the International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiatve ([2] [3]

Robbie Davis-Floyd is a recipient of multiple awards, including the Lamaze International Research Award and an award for service to the North American Registry of Midwives and American midwifery.

Online Resources

Websites for Robbie Davis-Floyd
Facebook page

International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative:

Further Reading

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Birth as an American Rite of Passage

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From Doctor to Healer


Davis-Floyd, Robbie
1992 Birth as an American Rite of Passage. Berkeley: University of California Press.
1996 Intuition as Authoritative Knowledge in Midwifery and Homebirth. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 10(2):237-269.

Robbie Davis-Floyd’s website:
Midwifery Today:
  1. ^ Davis-Floyd, Robbie. (1996). Intuition as Authoritative Knowledge in Midwifery and Homebirth. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 10(2):237-269.
  2. ^ Davis-Floyd, Robbie. (2003). Curriculum Vitae.
  3. ^ Davis-Floyd, Robbie.