The Grandmother Blues: Postpartum Depression and the Grandmother-Mother-Baby Triad in Intergenerational Households in Luzhou, China


PSTC Seminar Room, Mencoff Hall 205

Katherine Mason, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Brown University

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In this talk Mason will share preliminary results from an ongoing, multi-sited ethnographic study of mothers experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety symptoms in China and the US. The talk will focus on the speaker's recent findings concerning the role that grandmothers can play in exacerbating symptoms of postpartum mental illness in intergenerational households in China. Mason will also address related issues in American households, and will deconstruct the notion of "social support" as a factor in promoting health and wellness among new mothers in distress.

Katherine Mason joined Brown University and the PSTC in 2014. She is a medical anthropologist who has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in China and the U.S. Mason's research addresses issues in medical anthropology, anthropological demography, population health, global health, bioethics, China studies, reproductive health, and mental health. Mason is currently conducting a multi-sited ethnography of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders in China and the U.S., with a focus on low-income women and their families. This project includes longitudinal open-ended interviews with affected women and their families, as well as participant observation in the home during the postpartum period (first 3 months after the birth of a baby). For this project Mason has trained as a postpartum doula and has worked with local clinicians in Providence, RI and in Luzhou (Sichuan) China.