Hot off the press: new book! “Imagery, Ritual, and Birth”

I am thrilled to announce the recent publication of my first book, Imagery, Ritual, and Birth: Ontology Between the Sacred and the Secular! Published by Rowman & Littlefield, this book provides the reader with how images are used in birth as a contemporary rite of passage. Included as part of the book is a detailed look at the impact of visualization and mental imagery on physiological transformation, specifically as occurs during labor and birth. The book is also available through Amazon here.

Imagery, Ritual, and Birth is a hugely significant and timely book, calling attention to one of the most profound set of issues in philosophy and the contemporary study of religion and secularity—the ongoing mishandling of birth and natality—as well as offering its own rich and satisfying response. This book will be essential reading for anyone who takes seriously the theoretical and empirical study of religion, secularity, nonreligion and the sacred, and for those involved in the reshaping of these fields around new understandings of spirituality, worldview and existential meaning and culture. It is also a wonderful read, and will engage and reward scholars and students at all levels.
Lois Lee, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Religious Studies, University of Kent

This diverse and multicultural examination of the contemporary movement by women, men gender-non-conforming individuals and communities to re-sacralize the birthing body provides a profound and detailed examination of the loss of birthing imagery in the modern West – and the efforts of contemporary artists, birth activists, women, men and other birthgivers to reclaim it. Her argument for the significance of birthing images which offer empowerment, and support to women and other birthgivers is augmented by the many powerful images of birth and pregnancy drawn from Asian, African, European, Meso-American and Indigenous sources.
Arisika Razak, Professor Emerita, Women’s Spirituality Program, California Institute of Integral Studies

Synopsis: Every human being is born and has gone through a process of birth. Yet the topic of birth remains deeply underrepresented in the humanities, overshadowed by a scholarly focus on death. This book explores how imagery is used ritualistically in religious, secular, and nonreligious ways during birth, through analysis of a wide variety of art, iconography, poetry, and material culture. Objects central to the book’s study include religious figurines, paintings about birth, and other items representative of pregnancy, crowning, or giving birth that have an historical or original meaning connected to religion. Contemporary artists are also creating new art in which they represent birth and mothering as nonreligious events that are sacred or divine. Framed through the concept of social ontology, which examines the nature of the social world and studies how people create meaning out of the various objects, images, and processes that make up human social life, the book theorizes a social ontology of birth, focusing on how the meaning of imagery undergoes metamorphosis between the spheres of religion, secularity, nonreligion, and the sacred when used during birth as a rite of passage. Included in the study are more than thirty images of birth, some of which have never been written about before.