Call for Participation

Interdisciplinary Research Workshop 29 June 2023: "Commoning Birth: Mobilizing the common good in abortion and childbirth", hosted at Institute for European Ethnology and Centre for transdisciplinary Gender Studies @HumboldtUni; deadline: 7 June 2023


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Call for Participation: Interdisciplinary Research Workshop 29th June 2023

Commoning Birth: Mobilizing the common good in abortion and childbirth 


We give birth, raise children, or terminate pregnancies collectively. Midwifery understands itself as a deeply communal practice of "being-with". And even the biology of pregnancy can be understood as collective: The placenta is a shared organ, belonging to the pregnant person and the fetus at the same time, enabling their shared being. Law and public health policy in Germany consider obstetric infrastructures as a common good and thus do take into account certain collective notions of pregnancy and birth. This is apparent, for example, with regard to collective legal categories such as the "solidarity community" of health insurance members and conceptions of the social and welfare state, which grants "mothers" a constitutionally anchored "protection of the community." (Art. 6 (4) GG)

However, embedded in multiple crises care for pregnant and birthing people suffers under staff shortages, underpayment, and lack of resources for social reproduction and it seems: Birth doesn't really matter to community. The push for "reproductive justice for all" also expands individualistic understandings of rights in light of abortion rights and freedom of choice in childbirth. In these fights, care workers, midwifery advocates, and reproductive justice activists not only mobilize for better health-care infrastructures but new notions of the commons and new visions of the "the general public" that these common goods are made to enable and support. 

We will attempt to lay bare the implications and possible transformations of the tension between collectivity, individualism and neglect inherent in neoliberal racial capitalism in the political domain of pregnancy, abortion and childbirth. In this one-day hybrid workshop jointly hosted at Institute for European Ethnology and Centre for transdisciplinary Gender Studies at the Humboldt University Berlin at 29th June, we aim to discuss how the current political aspiration of "Good Births for All" is mobilized as commons to "transform birthing culture" while we are at the same time stuck within a neoliberal society wherein quality health care remains exclusionary. 

Come and share your current work in an accessible way. Loose ideas, pieces from fieldwork, or outlines of research projects are just fine. Please email your 250 words abstract in English or German to michele.kretschel.1[ at ] till June 7thThis will help us to schedule the program. We look forward to continue the ongoing discussion on midwifery and sexual reproduction from a political theory and humanities perspective.


Nähere Informationen

michele.kretschel.1[ at ]