Universitas Indonesia Conferences, 7th International Symposium of Journal Antropologi Indonesia

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“They Call It a Revolution”: Affect in Reproductive Governance and Health Politics in Indonesia
Sari Damar Ratri

Building: Soegondo Building
Room: 522
Date: 2019-07-25 01:00 PM – 02:30 PM
Last modified: 2019-06-21


This paper explains how health metrics used as technologies of rule to shift women’s perception from homebirth to clinical birth in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The Maternal and Neonatal Health Revolution is a bilateral-funded program between the Australian and Indonesian governments, that was initiated in 2009 and ended in 2015. This "revolutionary" program works through advancing strict rules and regulation, bureaucratic procedures, guidelines, and metrics. If a massive maternal mortality intervention should lead to more women accessing healthcare, and thus reduce maternal mortality, why is it that so many women in this village are still hesitant to go to the clinic? Considering the heavy reliance on statistically robust results in global health projects, how do bureaucracies and providers systematically capture and record the so-called non-compliance cases? In this paper, I argue, an overreliance on numbers without solving the problem of a dearth of basic medical services and without developing other supporting infrastructures has caused insurmountable problems of maternal mortality. To answer my questions, I am using the concept of affective numbers to see people’s sensorial and spatial experiences in the supposedly vital moment of childbirth. I draw my framework using the phenomenological approach of counting or to be counted to underline how numbers constructed, experienced, and understood by different actors.