Working Groups

Practices and Social Relations of Obstetrical Objects

Inspired by feminist science studies on ontology (such as new materialisms), this working group will investigate the theory, practices, and social relations that produce specific obstetrical objects in a variety of spaces. We shift focus away from theoretical conceptions of the reproductive body and objects to how these objects were enacted in practice in different situations. In doing so, we seek to uncover the instability of objects and the reproductive body. This approach requires paying particular attention to the practices producing and surrounding these objects. Each of the eight workshops, therefore, will center on an obstetrical object in order to interrogate its instability and entanglement with the reproductive body in different contexts. We encourage conversations that explore the material semiotics of obstetrical objects—the entanglements of materiality, discourse, practices, and the social. 
Meetings will be held monthly on second Thursdays at 10:00 AM Eastern Time during the 2020-2021 academic year.
To join this working group, click "Request group membership" at right. You will receive instructions for participating online or in person.


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    Scottie Buehler

    Scottie Buehler (CPM, PhD) is a midwife turned historian of medicine. After earning her BA in Sociology and Women and Gender Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, she became licensed as a Certified Professional Midwife and founded and operated a homebirth midwifery practice in Austin, Texas. She received her Ph.D. in history with a concentration in the history of science, technology, and medicine from UCLA. Scottie’s current book project applies practice and object-oriented methodologies to the study of midwifery training programs across the French Atlantic in the eighteenth century. She was a Research Fellow in the Consortium in 2019.


  • Martina Schlünder

    Martina Schlünder (MD/PhD) is a research scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, Germany. From 2015-18 she held a Marie Curie Fellowship at the Technoscience Research Unit at Women and Gender Studies Institute at University of Toronto with a project on the technoscientific turn in the history of reproduction in the 20th and 21st centuries. In the working group she is particularly interested in the exploration of the material culture of experimental systems in obstetrical research at the beginning of the 20th century (in Germany) when obstetrics turned away from anatomical based research and started to conceptualize delivery as a physiological process.


Upcoming Meetings (all times Eastern)

  • Thursday, October 8, 2020 - 10:00am to 11:30am

    A Tale of Two Stories: Unearthing the 1939 Dickinson-Belskie Birth Series Sculptures & the Process of Sharing Them With Many Different Worlds
    By: Rosemarie Holz, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
    In this 2-part presentation, Rose Holz will spend most of her time discussing the little-known but hugely influential 1939 Dickinson-Belskie Birth Series, a series of sculptures created for the 1939-1940 World's Fair in order to educate lay and medical audiences the mechanics of in-utero human development from fertilization through delivery. Not only did these sculptures shape modern obstetrical education for aspiring practitioners and educate lay individuals in matters of pregnancy -- giving rise to modern understandings of pregnancy radically different from those which held sway in the 1800s -- but in so doing they articulated over three decades in advance the language and imagery that would become the hallmarks of the modern pro-life movement, a curious irony given that Dickinson himself was a staunch proponent of the provision of abortion. Thus embedded in this story is the subjectivity of the knowledge we create about our bodies. Also embedded in it, however, are striking new ways to discuss the abortion debate in ways that bridge the pro-choice/pro-life divide.

    Holz will then conclude by turning to more methodological considerations, in this case about the process of publication. Drawing upon her experiences publishing this story in two different academic settings, she will open the conversation to what it's like to translate the stories we tell to different academic audiences while at the same time remaining true to one's own voice and desire to reach beyond the walls of the academy.

  • Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 10:00am to 11:30am


  • Thursday, December 10, 2020 - 10:00am to 11:30am


  • Thursday, January 14, 2021 - 10:00pm to 11:30pm


  • Thursday, February 11, 2021 - 10:00am to 11:30am


  • Thursday, March 11, 2021 - 10:00am to 11:30am


  • Thursday, April 8, 2021 - 10:00am to 11:30am


  • Thursday, May 13, 2021 - 10:00am to 11:30am


Past Meetings

  • September 10, 2020

    Methodologies: From Material Culture to Practices

  • Membership