QMNC Calabash Cafe

Join our monthly, virtual, global gathering and share stories, resources, and learnings related to reproductive justice.

Connect with the QMNC community in a relaxed, intimate virtual setting

At each Calabash Cafe, we will connect with and learn from our global community of researchers. Get comfortable, grab a cup of tea, and join us for a relaxed, facilitated experience.

Join us live and on the QMNC platform

Our live gatherings will include facilitated dialogue and networking sessions. Presentations will be recorded and posted on the QMNC platform, where we will continue the conversation and build community. We are rotating timezones to ensure these sessions are available to QMNC members regardless of where in the world you live.

Meet our facilitator, Micknai Arefaine

Micknai Arefaine (she/they) is a birthworker, cultural organizer, and reproductive anthropologist. She serves as QMNC Equity Project Manager and works with QMNC leadership and fellows on a scoping review of Epistemic Justice research. For her Master’s research in Applied Anthropology, Micknai led a study with her community of women in the Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia where she investigated how they model, express, and reflect the values of community, trust, care, stability, and futurity through their perceptions and sentiments regarding social and political change.

Meet our guest moderator, Melissa Cheyney

Melissa Cheyney PhD, LDM is a Professor of Clinical Medical Anthropology at Oregon State University (OSU) and a community midwife (on sabbatical). She co-directs Uplift—a research and reproductive equity laboratory at OSU, where she serves as the Primary Investigator on more than 20 maternal and infant health-related research projects, including the Community Doula Project. She is the author of an ethnography entitled Born at Home (2010, Wadsworth Press), co-editor with Robbie Davis-Floyd of Birth in Eight Cultures (2019, Waveland Press), and author or co-author of more than 60 peer-reviewed articles that examine the cultural beliefs and clinical outcomes associated with midwife-attended birth at home and in birth centers in the United States. In 2019, Dr. Cheyney served on the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s Birth Settings in America Study and in 2020 was named Eminent Professor by OSUs Honors College. She also received Oregon State University’s prestigious Scholarship Impact Award for her work in the International Reproductive Health Laboratory and with the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) Statistics Project. She is co-lead of the Interim Steering Committee for the Quality Maternal and Newborn Care Research Alliance and is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care and the mother of a daughter born at home.

Our next Calabash Cafe

Facilitator: Micknai Arefaine
Guest Moderator: Melissa Cheyney, PhD, LDM (Professor of Clinical Medical Anthropology)
Topic: Injera Epistemology: An Indigenous Ethiopian Feminist Framework
Date: Thursday, January 25, 2024
Time(s): 2:00AM EST and 11:00am EST

In this Calabash Cafe, Micknai Arefaine will introduce the indigenous Ethiopian feminist framework of Injera Epistemology. This approach de-centers hegemonic Western epistemologies and ontology and moves towards a frame that centers Ethiopian women’s ways of knowing and being.

In Ethiopia, Injera (a sourdough flatbread that is a staple food) is prepared in a sacred and gendered spatio-temporal location that is only accessible to women and children. Far more than a physical location, the Injera kitchen is carried with Ethiopian women throughout the diaspora and represents “a site of multiple changing levels and degrees of freedom, self-awareness, subjectivity, and agency.” (Abarca, 2006, p. 19).

An approach that encompasses both the practices and theoretical perspectives of women and non-men closest to the problem and closest to the solution, Injera Epistemology is an Indigenous research framework situated in a transnational and diasporic perspective.

Based on her work with a community of women in the Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia, where she investigated how they model, express, and reflect the values of community, trust, care, stability, and futurity through their perceptions and sentiments regarding social and political change, Micknai will share how Injera Epistemology can be used to inform research methods emphasizing relationality and accountability and serve as a powerful way to implement decolonized methodological approaches when conducting studies with vulnerable populations, specifically women and non-men.

A group discussion will follow the presentation and all attendees are encouraged to share their experiences, goals, and perspectives.

  • EVENT ONE: 25 January 2024
  • EVENT TWO: 25 January 2024

Registration is free for QMNC members.

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Why the name “Calabash Cafe”?

The calabash has many names in many languages and has a long history of use by humans. It is a symbol of home, the womb, community, water, and wisdom.

We chose this name because both the Calabash and the Cafe are part of human existence around the world. They symbolize gathering together to drink from the universal and timeless well of knowledge and understanding. We look forward to learning from one another what these symbolize in our respective cultures and traditions while co-creating our own community as we gather around the Calabash.

“Indeed, throughout the African diaspora, among different religious and spiritual groups, the calabash is a sacred object that often serves divine purposes.” - Gina Athena Ulysse

“Many plants have worked their way into our lives, but few have done so with as much flair as the calabash. For over ten thousand years, people have used the calabash (known also as the bottle gourd and formally as Lagenaria siceraria) in all sorts of ways. They’ve eaten it as food. They’ve used it as fishing floats, as pontoons for river rafts, as goblets, as pipe stems. And around the world, people make music with it.” – Carl Zimmer