Andrea Ford earned her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2017, and is currently finishing her bookNear Birth: Embodied Futures in Californian Childbearing based on her doctoral research.

Andrea’s research lies at the intersection of reproductive and environmental justice. Currently, she is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society at the University of Edinburgh, where she is starting a new project on hormones that considers endometriosis, PCOS, endocrine disruption, and period tracking.

“These drawings express memorable moments from her fieldwork as a birth doula, moments in which emotions that are not conventional in birth imagery come to the fore: tenderness towards the birthing person as I quietly plait her hair, waiting for labor to kick in; humor as a client uses twin breast pumps to stimulate her nipples and induce contractions, comparing herself amusedly to the Austin Powers fembots; awkwardness as a midwife practically lays her head on the hospital linoleum to watch the vulva of a pushing woman squatting naked on a birth stool; and intense focus as both surgeon and new mother go about the care-work required immediately post-partum, respectively sewing up the perineum and locking eyes with her still-waxy infant. 

Drawing can capture situations in which a camera would be experienced as intrusive, provide better anonymity than photographs, and invite viewers into the experience differently than words do. As an ethnographer, I found that making drawings heightened a particular kind of awareness while dampening others, helping me “see” differently.”