University of Cambridge > > CRASSH > Lets Talk About Sex (and Reproduction): Counselling for Reproductive Health in Post-war Europe (12-13 December)

Lets Talk About Sex (and Reproduction): Counselling for Reproductive Health in Post-war Europe (12-13 December)

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Today, counsellors in reproductive health help patients and parents make reproductive decisions, interpret the results of genetic tests, make decisions about treatment and birth control, and understand sexual difficulties. Counselling encounters are potentially highly emotional — provoking guilt, fear, confusion, relief and joy — and can powerfully impact individuals, families, extended families and communities. They also have rich and varied histories. In post-war Europe, counselling and communication practices in reproductive health have driven and been shaped by the ‘liberalisation’ of sexuality, the psychological turn, ethical and legal debates about reproductive autonomy and disability, discourses about race, gender and medicine, a growing need for patients to manage risks, and new definitions of responsible citizens and patients.

This two-day interdisciplinary conference will bring together historians, sociologists and current professionals to discuss how counselling has changed, how its practices have shaped reproductive health and what its histories can tell us about practices today. In bringing together scholars and practitioners we focus on three principal fields: sexual and birth-control counselling, infertility counselling and genetic counselling. Focusing on Europe—historically a centre for new reproductive technologies—participants will chart and compare the histories and present-day practices of these rich medical encounters.

Thematically, the conference has four aims:

To recover the changing (and gendered) experiences of reproductive and sexual medicine, by patients and practitioners To explore the role of ‘emotion’ in counselling, to recover how emotions have been understood according to class, gender and race, and how have counsellors been taught to discipline their own emotions

To understand changing strategies for managing risk and responsibility, and how these have differed across political contexts To explore how counselling is being refashioned today, in light of new reproductive technologies and genomic medicine.

This talk is part of the CRASSH series.

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