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Córdova Earns National Award for her Book on the History of Childbirth in Puerto Rico

Published September 04, 2018

I wanted to tell a story that had not been told and take those stories often told about industrialization and rapid change in Puerto Rico and see them through a new lens.- Isabel Córdova

Her book is drawing national praise for its important contribution to the history of medicine in Puerto Rico and the United States in relation to formations of gender, childbirth, and motherhood.  Nazareth Associate Professor of History and Political Science Isabel Córdova is the winner of the National Women's Studies Association (NWSA) 2018 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize for her book, Pushing in Silence: Modernizing Puerto Rico and the Medicalization of Childbirth (University of Texas Press, 2017).

The prize is awarded for groundbreaking scholarship in women's studies that makes significant multicultural feminist contributions to women of color/transnational scholarship.

“The fact that this award is to commemorate trailblazer, queer, Chicana, feminist Gloria Andalzúa is of particular significance for me,” said Córdova. “I have tremendous respect for the scholars involved in the review process as well as the previous recipients of this award.  To be in their company is quite an honor.”

The book prize committee says “Pushing in Silence achieves a deft intertwining between analyses of childbirth, colonialism, and modernity as social processes in Puerto Rico. Pushing in Silence is a watershed text in feminist scholarship on Puerto Rico.”

Córdova’s interest in this topic started when she was a master’s student at the University of Puerto Rico. “The power of doctors and their role in politics in Puerto Rico intrigued me,” she said. “I began to explore oral history, labor history, and intellectual history, and knew I wanted to contribute to women’s history.  I had recently given birth to my son, with a midwife at home, and had been part of reproductive rights movements. All of these interests and experiences coalesced and resulted in a series of research projects that extended into my doctoral dissertation. The dissertation was the foundation of Pushing in Silence.”

The NWSA is a leading voice in the field of feminism and gender issues and is the umbrella organization that oversees the scholarly quality of Women's and Gender and Feminist Studies programs across the United States.

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