|The Guomindang and the Chinese Communist Party, the two ruling parties in
twentieth-century China, made improving infant and maternity health a crucial aspect of
their projects to modernize Chinese society. Both parties promulgated regulations and
laws governing the registration of midwives and the quality of their education and
services. They also founded professional schools to train midwives in scientific and
modern techniques, and supported retraining programs for old-style midwives while
banning unqualified women without "proper" medical education from practicing.
However, despite these similarities, the two parties had different understandings
and visions of their reform programs and employed different strategies to actualize their
reform ideals. The main concerns of this dissertation are how ordinary Chinese people,
especially women, experienced the state programs that introduced modern medical
programs and the power of the state into their daily lives and how their responses, in fact,
reshaped those reform programs and determined their success.
Empirical evidence for this dissertation comes from medical textbooks, handbooks
for midwives, personal writings and letters of midwives, newspapers, novels, and other
archival materials such as police documents and the CCP work reports regarding
midwifery reform. In addition, I use interviews with rural midwives, ex-barefoot doctors,
local CCP cadres, and villagers from my field research conducted in major cities,
including Beijing and Shanghai, and in rural villages in northern China. Those formal
interviews with local people and the archival materials powerfully illustrate how the two
parties' different visions of modernizing and reshaping Chinese society interacted with
medical reformers, midwives, and local communities and ordinary Chinese women in
different ways with respect to midwifery reform.