School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Inaugural Lecturer: Professor Gayle Davis

'Science and subordination: Women’s reproductive health as a "biological straitjacket" in post-1880 Britain'

A recent rise in anti-abortion protests outside British clinics that provide abortion services, and resulting campaigns to introduce buffer zones, might be seen as the latest chapter in the troubled history of women’s bodies and those seeking to control them. This lecture will consider how medical science has been used as a tool of control in modern Britain, by the medical profession, politicians and activists. Coined by the historian, Anne Digby, the ‘biological straitjacket’ evocatively captures attempts to pathologise and thereby regulate women’s bodies. By constructing theories that have focused upon fragility and irrationality, particularly associated with the female reproductive system, medicine has been used effectively by those wishing to legitimise and reinforce women’s subordinate socio-economic position.

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Professor Gayle Davis

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Gayle Davis is Professor of the History of Medicine at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology.

Professor Gayle Davis' staff profile

Nov 22 2023 -

Inaugural Lecturer: Professor Gayle Davis

The Inaugural Lecturer by Professor Gayle Davis will be on 'Science and subordination: Women’s reproductive health as a "biological straitjacket" in post-1880 Britain'.

G.03, 50 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LH