School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Intimate politics: Fertility control in a global historical perspective

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Across the globe, women have always controlled their fertility through intimate efforts ultimately tied to larger political processes and gendered power dynamics. Women’s biological reproductive capabilities have been contested sites of power struggles, shaping the formation, rule, and dissolution of nation-states and political regimes throughout history. From the concept of partus sequitur ventrum, in which slavery was passed on through the mother’s womb, to settler colonial projects that supported ‘desirable’ reproduction while restricting ‘undesirable’ migration in Australia and the United States, to abortion as the most common form of birth control in some communist regimes, the politics of the state have played out on the bodies of women. Current debates over nationhood, globalization, and inequality continue to be mapped onto women’s bodies. Yet the intersection of larger political, economic, and social processes with women’s intimate and embodied experience of fertility control remains understudied in the historical literature. This conference aims to put the intimate experience of fertility control at the heart of political and social approaches towards women’s bodies.

This conference is part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship in the school of History, Classics, and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. Organised by Dr Cassia Roth, Marie Sklodowska Curie Postdoctoral Fellow. Funded by the European Union (GA747374, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship)


Intimate politics: Fertility control in a global historical perspective

A conference on the intimacies of fertility control politics to be held at the University of Edinburgh, 23-24 May 2018. (Published 14 December, 2017)

Sydney Smith Lecture Theatre, Room 2.520, Doorway 1, Old Medical School, Teviot Place