Using Technology Towards Credentialisation: The Dais of Gujarat

Dr. Subadhra Rai
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Technological advancement has widened the gulf between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots.’ It has not trickled down equitably because of social and structural barriers. Being identified with technology is critical when it comes to credentialisation and legitimisation of work and knowledge and determining their monetary value. The Dais (indigenous midwives) of Gujarat understand this link well. Although they conduct 40%-95% of births in Gujarat, their work continues to be perceived as marginal. In part, this is because their knowledge, birthing methods, and language are steeped in their indigenous culture based on the local sociocultural framework. Thus, Dais’ work and knowledge lack the authority of biomedicine which has positioned itself as scientific, modern and technologically advanced. Practitioners of biomedicine derive their authority from two levels—the use of technological language and knowledge and access to technological hardware. Dais know that to ‘survive’ in the system, it is critical they develop a practice that would legitimise their work and knowledge. Dais have begun to use the biomedical language and some of its accoutrements. However, this has occurred under the control of the biomedically oriented health care system. The long-term effect of this adoption on Dais’ indigenous knowledge and practices (based on listening, touching, experiential learning and intuition) is unknown. What is also unknown is whether the overburdened health care system be able to sustain the ‘modernisation’ of Dais.

Keywords: Technology, Dais, Work, Knowledge, Credentialisation, Language
Stream: Technology in Community, Knowledge and Technology
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Using Technology Towards Credentialisation

Dr. Subadhra Rai

Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, Laurentian University

I am a Singaporean who migrated to Canada in 1988. I am a nurse and an academic. My interest is in women’s health. I conducted my doctoral research in Gujarat looking at the work of the indigenous midwives where I explored the link between health and work. I will be teaching community development, capacity-building and health at the school of nursing. This year (2005) I worked as a health coordinator with an NGO in Thailand. I am also the foreign correspondent for KFAW, a women’s NGO in Japan.

Ref: T06P0231