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‘Birth work’ accompaniment and PhD supervision: an alternative feminist pedagogy for the neoliberal university

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-152
Number of pages17
JournalGender and Education
Issue number1
Early online date22 Aug 2017
DateSubmitted - 2016
DateAccepted/In press - 10 Jun 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 22 Aug 2017
DatePublished (current) - Jan 2019


In this paper, we discuss how ‘with-woman’ midwifery and doula care provide resources for rethinking the theory and practice of academic supervision from a feminist perspective. We identify how the tradition of accompaniment in both birth work and academia is under threat given the economic reforms facing public sector education and health care. Despite these pressures, we suggest that the practice of focusing on the pregnant woman as an ‘expert’ on her pregnancy rather than on the foetus or the delivery – that is, the ‘product’ of her pregnancy – would help transform how we theorise and practise academic supervision. The aim of the supervisory relation would mean supporting the student’s direct relation to the intellectual, embodied and emotional process of completing the PhD. Such an approach suggests ways in which the pedagogical practices of contemporary midwifery and doula care can inform academic supervision in the neoliberal university.

    Structured keywords

  • Gender Research Group

    Research areas

  • accompaniment, doula, midwife, neoliberalism, relationality, Supervision

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    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Taylor and Francis at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 400 KB, PDF document


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