“Whose Baby Is It Anyway?” Conflicting Regimes of Care and Feeding in NICU Spaces in the U.S.
About the talk
In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit human milk is considered a medical intervention in the treatment of premature and critically ill infants—yet barriers exist to providing milk, including the separation of the mother and infant, education, and traumatic birth experience. In this talk I revisit scale, territory and power beginning with the lactating body as a site of food production and the traumatized body as a territorial battleground in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Drawing on feminist geopolitics, I examine how politics are written by and on bodies, and how power relations flow within and between them as sites of material exchange. Specifically, I consider the (geo)politics of infant feeding in the NICU, where there are conflicting regimes of care and feeding and there is friction between parents and NICU staff as each tries to attend to infant well-being. Using preliminary data from an online survey and early interviews with NICU staff in Delaware, I argue that the NICU is not an apolitical space and the structural barriers to breastfeeding and inequities in access to human milk are compounded in this public, controlled, and regulated space of infant care.
About the speaker
Lindsay Naylor is assistant professor of geography at the University of Delaware. She holds a PhD from the University of Oregon. Her research investigates the multi-sited ‘geo’ of geopolitics and, using food and agriculture as a lens, examines how it is written across space, place, and bodies. Naylor draws from frameworks in critical and feminist geopolitics, political ecology, decolonial philosophy, and diverse economies to ground action-oriented research. Her recent scholarship centers on knowledge production around fair trade and food sovereignty and new work is focused on the material geopolitics of human milk access. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Fair Rebels? Fair Trade Coffee Exchanges and Struggles to make Livable Worlds, which will be out next year with University of Minnesota Press. She is part of the Community Economies Research Network and serves on the council of the American Association of Geographers.