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Generation to Reproduction


Projects under the Wellcome strategic award

The main synthetic output of our Wellcome strategic award is Reproduction: Antiquity to the Present Day, a large, accessible, illustrated volume edited by Nick Hopwood, Rebecca Flemming and Lauren Kassell, and published by Cambridge University Press in 2018. It contains many chapters and 'exhibits' by group members and other scholars.

More specific research was organized within four strands. Use the links below to explore examples of our work. For more conferences and workshops, see past events.

1. Patients and practitioners

Patients and practitioners have long sought to promote fertility – and to control or restrict it. Projects in this strand explored how people seeking and offering help have framed the generative body.

2. Reproducing generations: conception and survival

Biological, anthropological and historical research has shown the variability of human fertility and the social diversity of reproduction. This strand evaluated historically the effects on reproductive rates of the health of conception and the fetus. We have been particularly interested in exposure to infection in cities with high disease loads and in social settings in which sex may have carried venereal diseases that impacted on reproduction.

3. Representation and communication

Generation and reproduction have been debated since antiquity, with much continuity in questions and huge changes in form. This strand worked to ground in basic practices of representation and communication a history that has tended to be written in terms of disembodied ideas.

4. Twentieth-century transformations: technologies, experiences, regulation

How, and to what extent, did science transform reproduction in the twentieth century? Projects in this strand look at how new technologies were developed and how they changed the experience of reproduction. We are also studying new forms of regulation, such as for embryo research.

Research on the history of IVF

Main image: Human eight-cell embryo for IVF selection
Image credit: K. Hardy (CC BY)