Childbirth, care, Mehinako, Upper Xingu, Indigenous health.


This article addresses issues of care and corporeality during gestation, childbirth, the postpartum period, and childcare through a case study conducted with Mehinako people. Among this Amazonian people, care forms the person, having an elementary function in the daily construction of kinship relations through means of affection. A recent trend has caused expressive transformations in the way women experience corporeality and the making of a person: the displacement of birth from the home to hospitals, motivated by women’s fear, desire, and curiosity. In the city, Indigenous women transit through medical institutions, which I propose may be read as interference zones. There, they undergo interventions from a set of preestablished technocratic routines and have to engage in ontological and epistemological disputes. Furthermore, they find themselves using their creativity to perform their own hospital births, and to interfere in their relatives’ childbirth experiences through measures of care. I analyse here the multiple meanings attributed to care, alongside the problems and possible solutions women anticipate for hospital childbirth, while seeking to contribute to reflections on corporeality and kinship and discussions of gender in Indigenous Amazonia.