After reminding the reader that the medicalisation of women’s bodies has a
specific history, the introduction lays out the key arguments of the book.
It presents the methodological framework adopted – namely a social, cultural
and intellectual history framework that focuses on the environment in which
women doctors lived, emphasising the opportunities they encountered and the
constraints they faced. The introduction then reviews the main scholarship
on birth control and family planning and makes the case for the need to
study the role of women doctors. It locates women doctors’ contribution to
the medicalisation of birth control and family planning within three
different research strands: reproductive politics, gendered medical
practices and contraceptive culture and scientific knowledge. It examines
the interconnections of these elements to explain women doctors’ paths
towards birth control and family planning.
This chapter turns to women doctors’ contributions at the international level
between 1920 and 1937 through an explicit comparison between British and
French women doctors by drawing on proceedings of international conferences
and archival material. In the interwar years, British women doctors,
although not numerous, were nevertheless agents of the legitimacy of birth
control. Indeed, they were vocal and indispensable in the transnational
movement for birth control. Owing to their somewhat peripheral position in
the national medical field, they took up the task of the practical aspects
of birth control; they opened clinics and fitted individuals. This practical
experience paradoxically gave them specific female expertise and power,
relative to men, in international associations. While birth control tended
to be framed in eugenic/neo-Malthusian terms by male doctors before 1930, it
gradually became a medical subject in which scientific vocabulary and
concern for individual welfare predominated. Women doctors played a major
role in this shift. The international conferences on birth control and
population issues positioned women as experts in this medical field, but, as
I show, also revealed national differences between Britain and France.
Chapter 2 explores the expansion of birth control sessions in family planning
centres into sexual advice, which became available primarily through the
activities of women doctors in Britain during the interwar period and
onwards. The chapter analyses the way in which women doctors set up advisory
sessions on ‘sub-fertility’ – i.e. sexual disorders and infertility – and
how they shaped this advice, as well as their scientific contributions to
these issues. It examines women doctors’ contributions to sex and medical
manuals, scientific publications and sexual counselling sessions with their
patients from the 1930s to the 1970s. This chapter demonstrates that Joan
Malleson, Helena Wright and Margaret Hadley Jackson played a pivotal role in
the development of this field. Their most important contribution was to
create and sustain a new holistic approach to family planning where birth
control advice, sexual disorders and infertility were treated together.
Here, I argue that women doctors developed this approach, mainly in response
to the difficulties faced by their patients.
The last chapter of the book delves into the many ways in which British women
doctors pressed for the development of an international movement for birth
control and family planning. It analyses their first attempt, in 1928, to
create the Birth Control International Information Centre. The crucial role
of British women is not restricted to the interwar years. Indeed, they
proved successful in rebuilding a transnational movement after the Second
World War. Due to the connections they established before the war, they
managed to gather experts on family planning in order to redefine a new
‘planned parenthood’ movement. In addition, this chapter pushes the
transnational approach even further by showing how the circulation of actors
and knowledge from Britain to France eased the creation of a French family
planning movement and family planning centres.
Women’s medicine explores the key role played by British female doctors in the
production and circulation of contraceptive knowledge and the handling of sexual
disorders between the 1920s and 1970s at the transnational level, taking France
as a point of comparison. This study follows the path of a set of women doctors
as they made their way through the predominantly male-dominated medical
landscape in establishing birth control and family planning as legitimate fields
of medicine. This journey encompasses their practical engagement with birth
control and later family planning clinics in Britain, their participation in the
development of the international movement of birth control and family planning
and their influence on French doctors. Drawing on a wide range of archived and
published medical materials, this study sheds light on the strategies British
female doctors used, and the alliances they made, to put forward their medical
agenda and position themselves as experts and leaders in birth control and
family planning research and practice.
The Tomašica mass grave and the trial of Ratko Mladić
This article focuses on the judicial consideration of the scientific analysis of the Tomašica mass grave, in the Prijedor municipality of Republika Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Often referred to as the largest mass grave in Europe since the Second World War, this grave was fully discovered in September 2013 and the scientific evidence gathered was included in the prosecution of Ratko Mladić before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Based on the exhaustive analysis of all the publicly available trial transcripts, this article presents how the Tomašica evidence proved symptomatic of the way in which forensic sciences and international criminal justice intertwine and of the impact of the former over the latter on the admissibility of evidence, the conduct of proceedings and the qualification of the crimes perpetrated.
The display of human remains is a controversial issue in many contemporary societies, with many museums globally removing them from display. However, their place in genocide memorials is also contested. Objections towards the display of remains are based strongly in the social sciences and humanities, predicated on assumptions made regarding the relationship between respect, identification and personhood. As remains are displayed scientifically and anonymously, it is often argued that the personhood of the remains is denied, thereby rendering the person ‘within’ the remains invisible. In this article I argue that the link between identification and personhood is, in some contexts, tenuous at best. Further, in the context of Cambodia, I suggest that such analyses ignore the ways that local communities and Cambodians choose to interact with human remains in their memorials. In such contexts, the display of the remains is central to restoring their personhood and dignity.
Sacralisation and militarisation in the remembrance of the ‘cursed soldiers’
Marije Hristova and Monika Żychlińska
Between 2012 and 2017, at the Ł-section of Warsaw’s Powązki Military Cemetery, or ‘Łączka’, the Polish Institute of National Remembrance exhumed a mass grave containing the remains of post-war anti-communist resistance fighters. Being referred to as the ‘cursed soldiers’, these fighters have become key figures in post-2015 Polish memory politics. In this article we focus on the role of the volunteers at these exhumations in the production of the ‘cursed soldiers’ memory. Following the idea of community archaeology as a civil society-building practice, the observed processes of sacralisation and militarisation show how the exhumations create a community of memory that promotes the core values of the currently governing national-conservative PiS party. We found that tropes related to forensic research and typically identified with cosmopolitan memory paradigms are used within a generally nationalist and antagonistic memory framework.