8 Jun 2021 5:00pm - 7:00pm ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)


This is an online event hosted via Zoom. To attend please register online.



Maud Bracke (University of Glasgow)

Unfortunately, Kate Law (University of Nottingham) won't be able to join us to present her work. Her talk has been cancelled.


Maud Bracke
Whose choice? Family planning, reproductive agency, demography and race in 1950s-70s France

The paper analyses debates on family planning, demography, and gender roles to explore the emergence of new notions of the reproductive subject in 1950s-70s France. Drawing on archives of French and international family planning organisations, it is argued that while the dissemination of family planning ideas in France allowed for the discursive construction of an autonomous reproductive subject, such a subject was framed by a hierarchisation according to 'race', culture, and social class. Focusing on family planning interventions in immigrant groups, the paper argues that the 'responsibilisation' of specifically immigrant women in this context involved constructing the 'modern' reproductive subject in a normative way. In a wider perspective, the paper aims to contribute to an understanding of family planning as an impactful transnational movement, embedded in the global Cold War and the globalisation of demographic debate, and shaping sexual change in post-war Europe. 

Kate Law (Cancelled)
'Just before I decided to write to you, I saw a problem similar to mine': Medico-sexual information and advice in 'Black' South African magazines, c.1970-1984

This paper examines some of the ways in which ‘family planning’ was presented and debated in Drum and Bona, two of South Africa’s most popular magazines that were marketed at a black readership. Through analysing adverts, articles, letters to the editor, and advice columns, I explore the ways in which the idea of a medically ‘planned family’ began to occupy an increasingly prominent place in national public discourse.  In particular, the paper examines the ways in which Drum and Bona acted as important didactic spaces allowing black women rhetorical access to the public sphere. In addition, the paper reflects on the ways in which greater access to contraceptive technologies reflected powerful intergeneration tensions regarding ‘girlhood.’ Finally, the paper situates these debates amongst the broader ‘National Family Planning Programme’ that was launched by the apartheid regime in 1974. As is argued, from the start of the 1970s, the promotion of contraception became a critical preoccupation of the governing National Party (NP). This was not, however, South Africa’s belated experience of the ‘swinging sixties,’ and its concomitant ‘sexual revolution’, but was rather the latest iteration of the social engineering that lay at the heart of apartheid


About the Speakers

Maud Bracke is Reader at Glasgow University. She is a historian of 20th-century social, gender and political history of Europe. She has researched West European communism during the Cold War period, specifically the impact of the Czechoslovak crisis of 1968 on the Italian and French communist parties, Italian feminism. She has also led a research project on translating feminism, She is now charting the rise of notions of reproductive rights in post-1945 Europe (West and East) in a global perspective.

Kate Law is a Research Fellow at the Department of History,  Nottingham University. She is a feminist historian of the British Empire who specialises in modern South African and Zimbabwean history. To date, her research has examined the relationship between transnational networks, settler colonialism and women's colonial histories, principally focusing on white women and the ambiguities of race and gender in the Southern African region. Her first monograph, Gendering the Settler State: White Women, Race, Liberalism and Empire in Rhodesia c.1950-1980 (Routledge, New York, 2016, paperback 2017) began the long overdue task of 'gendering' the history of British decolonisation, through examining how 'liberal' women responded to UDI, guerrilla insurgency and the coming of independence in colonial Zimbabwe.



An event organised by Health, Medicine and Agency Research Network
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