Placentas and Persons: A Spatial History of the Reproductive Environment

Wednesday 19th October 2022 (13:00-14:00)

All are very welcome to join this seminar via MS Teams.

Our seminar series will feature speakers who will use ideas from science and technology studies and related fields to illuminate their area of study. If you would like more information about ISS, or would like to give a presentation in the future please contact ISS Director, Pru Hobson-West.


ISS Seminar Series 20223/23 

Speaker: Professor Maria Fannin, University of Bristol


Pregnancy is regarded by health researchers as a key period in which to begin studies focusing on the child, configuring the pregnant person’s body as the child’s first ‘environment.’ This presentation explores the history of efforts to enroll pregnant women in research studies focused on child health. Drawing on interviews with donor mothers, health professionals and scientists, and archival materials from a longitudinal study of child health in the southwest of the UK, this presentation considers how the concept of the ‘foetal environment’ was articulated through the collection and study of reproductive tissues such as cord blood and placenta. These studies attributed a special role to the placenta as a morphological archive of pregnancy, suggesting the importance of placental collecting to the broader efforts to govern pregnant people’s bodies and behaviours. 


Maria Fannin is Professor of Human Geography and leads the Gender Research Group at the University of Bristol. Her research focuses on gendered notions of risk and responsibility in the healthcare sector and gender-sensitive approaches to economic agency. She is an experienced collaborator in multi-disciplinary projects exploring women’s health and is Trustee of the Feminist Archive South.

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Institute for Science and Society
School of Sociology and Social Policy
Law and Social Sciences
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD