CfP: Women’s Bodies, Women’s Rights. Health Feminism, Reproductive Knowledge and Women’s Activism Across Europe in the long 20th Century (Event; 10/2023, Konstanz); by: 28.02.2023

Univ. of Konstanz: Anne Kwaschik (Web), Isabel Heinemann (Univ. of Bayreuth), Emeline Fourment (Univ. of Rouen), Heidi Hein-Kircher (Herder Institute Marburg)

Time: 19.-21.10.2023
Venue: Konstanz
Proposals by: 28.02.2023

Over the course of the 20th century, the idea of women’s rights transformed both the gender order and the concept of civil society: Therein, “health” proved a crucial issue, as it combined reproductive decision-making bodily integrity and access to medical knowledge. Drawing inspiration from both social protest movements and the feminist movement that started in the US and swept across Europe in the late 1960s, women started to organize for legal abortion, safe contraceptives, and women’s centers. Emphasizing self-help as key approach, they sought to counter a largely patriarchal society and protest the male-dominated fields of obstetrics and gynecology. In doing so, they elaborated their own body knowledge, a knowledge on and from the body, wrote their own health books and developed an expertise based on women’s experience. Knowledge appropriation and production became their main mode of action.
This conference aims at exploring health feminism and women’s activism from the perspective of the history of knowledge. It intends to interrogate the homogeneity of the existing Western European narratives focusing on the 1970s and on the argument that North America was the hub of knowledge transfer to the rest of the world. Against this background, this conference focuses on other transnational transfers, from Europe to the US, or within Europe and asks participants to reconsider periodization. Health feminists were already active in the 1920s and 1930s in socialist and anarchist political groups, and also in the eugenics movement. They elaborated and communicated contraceptive knowledge and sometimes even fought for abortion rights which leads us the following questions: How did these early women activists link health issues with claims of women’s emancipation? Was feminist knowledge affected by socialist, anarchist or eugenicist thought? And can we trace continuities between a … read more and source (Web)