- Seminar – The Political, the Emotional and the Therapeutic: The Women’s Movement and Mental Health Activism in England, c. 1969-1995.
(University of Essex).
Historians tracing the influence of feminist ideas on mental health in late twentieth-century Britain have focused on Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM) critiques of psychology, psychiatry and psychotherapy, as popularised by Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch. This paper, however, explores how and why some women’s movement members sought to positively apply psychological and psychotherapeutic discourses in order to understand themselves personally and politically, and to develop alternative forms of community-based support for women experiencing mental health concerns. Drawing on case studies of the London Women’s Liberation Workshop (LWLW) Psychology Group, founded in 1971, and the Women’s Therapy Centre, established in London in 1976, this paper examines the influence of emotion on women’s movement members’ interactions with psychology and psychotherapy. The LWLW Psychology Group drew on psychotherapeutic approaches to uncover women’s negative experiences of feminist practices such as consciousness-raising, therefore highlighting the need for increased emotional support within the WLM. In oral history interviews, former Women’s Therapy Centre practitioners have drawn on certain emotions to narrate their experiences of working there, describing how feelings associated with excitement and creative freedom inspired their initial engagement with feminist therapy. It is a nostalgia for these emotions that has also influenced their reflections on the Women’s Therapy Centre’s development in the 1990s. Some feminist therapists have associated its purported depoliticisation with a decline in opportunities for individual creativity at the Centre. This paper therefore demonstrates how debates within the WLM were not simply oriented around ideological disputes, but also reflected disparities in how its members experienced Women’s Liberation at an emotional level. These emotional responses have also informed how particular historical narratives of the women’s movement in late twentieth-century England have come to be constructed and disseminated.
Thursday, 10th May 2018, 12.45 pm – 2.00 pm
Venue: LG24, Keppel Street Building
- Seminar – The emotional politics of family planning campaigns in 1970s and 1980s Britain.
(University of Birmingham).
In 1984, the Family Planning Association of Great Britain (FPA) launched its year-long ‘Men Too’ campaign to encourage greater male involvement in family planning and personal relationships that represented a wider shift towards promoting ‘male responsibility’ for contraception in the 1980s. In this paper I argue that ‘Men Too’ formed part of a broader rethinking of masculinities and heterosexual relations in the late-twentieth century but that it also represented a shift in wider British emotional culture in this period towards valuing emotional expression. In particular it provides an insight into how educational campaigns such as those focused on family planning understood and attempted to manipulate the emotions of their publics amidst this shift.
To encourage male involvement in contraception, the FPA sought to reimagine masculinity amidst the apparent ‘crisis’ in both masculinity and contraceptive responsibility that was unfolding in the early 1980s. The latter crisis was prompted by the vast uptake of the oral contraceptive pill amongst a younger generation of women since the 1960s that had the effect of producing the uninvolved male contraceptor. However, by the late 1970s increasing numbers of these women were discontinuing use of the Pill over its reported iatrogenic effects, thus, for the FPA and similar organisations, reimagining masculinity and encouraging male responsibility grew increasingly urgent if unplanned pregnancies were to be reduced. With a focus on young, working-class urban men, the FPA incentivized this demographic with the guarantee that reforming their masculinity to permit themselves to be more emotionally expressive would also bring personal fulfilment. In doing this, the FPA reframed ‘crisis’ as an opportunity for men to reflect on and change their intimate and emotional conduct in the hope that this would improve intimate relations between the sexes and encourage negotiation of contraceptive responsibility.
Thursday, 17th May 2018, 12.45 pm – 2.00 pm
Venue: LG24, Keppel Street Building
- Seminar – Raising awareness about Hepatitis B and its vaccine
(UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies)
According to the World Health Organisation more than 3.5% of the world’s population are chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), the tenth leading cause of death globally. Few people, however, realise the HBV is 50-100 times more infectious than HIV and just how easily it can spread by exposure to blood, like in the birthing process.
Mother-to-child is one of the most important transmission points for HBV infection. And yet, because the HBV can persist chronically without any noticeable symptoms, many new mothers are completely unaware that they are infected at the time of childbirth. Another key transmission route is between an infected child and an uninfected child during the first 5 years of life. Those infected with the HBV early in life are more likely to develop a chronic infection and die prematurely from cirrhosis or liver cancer.
The only thing that can break the cycle of hepatitis B infection is the HBV vaccine. First introduced in the early 1980s, the HBV vaccine has dramatically reduced the incidence of hepatitis B around the world. One of the uphill struggles now is getting communities to recognise the need for the vaccine in the perceived absence of the disease. This is not helped by the fact that conversations about hepatitis B are often constrained by cultural misconceptions that hepatitis B is only spread by promiscuous sexual behaviour or the sharing of needles among drug users.
This paper discusses the development of a public engagement platform to foster greater understanding of hepatitis B and the science behind its vaccine. The platform will be centred around an online digital exhibition that will use historical sources and film footage to tell the story behind the hepatitis B vaccine. This is a compelling story because the vaccine not only dramatically reduced the global burden of hepatitis B, it was also the first vaccine to provide prevention against a human cancer. In addition its development transformed the safety and efficacy of vaccines overall.
Engagement with key stakeholder groups including patients, families, practitioners, scientists, advocacy groups and charities lies at the heart of the project. Different groups will be invited to share their experiences and get involved in the development of the digital exhibition and to participate in conversations around its content when it goes live online.
Thursday, 24th May 2018, 12.45 pm – 2.00 pm
Venue: LG24, Keppel Street Building