History Speaker Series 2021-22
Austerity, Experimentation and Opposition: The Global and Local Politics of Biomedical Contraception in Uganda
Dr Doreen Kembabazi
Postdoctoral researcher, Ghent University, Belgium; PhD, African History, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Friday 26 November, 10:00am Eastern time via Zoom
Please register to receive a Zoom link for the talk.
This talk examines the establishment of the birth control project in Uganda by American physician and eugenicist Clarence Gamble as a biomedical endeavor driven by global concerns about the reproductive capacities of Ugandan women and global overpopulation. It shows how these concerns clashed with local anxieties about demographic changes, social and political reproduction, and medical ethics. The talk examines the birth control project in Uganda as a form of reproductive exploitation of women. Dr Kembabazi argues that Gamble’s experimentation on women, and refusal to engage the public and their detractors, legitimized the concerns of pronatalist groups who tapped into a global racialized rhetoric that birth control would exterminate the Black race.
Meet Dr Kembabazi
"I hold a PhD (African History) from the University of Michigan. I’m currently working as a postdoc at Ghent University on a European Research Council funded project about the ‘Aftermath of Slavery in the Great Lakes of East Africa.’
In my work, I use a wide range of archival documents and interviews to highlight agency, change and continuities in gendered discourses about morality and moral panics in Uganda. I investigate the controversy over women’s sexual, reproductive, and sartorial choices in Uganda. I show how women’s agendas and aspirations collided with the (moral) agendas of the state, husbands, church leaders, medics, birth control activists and ordinary Ugandans. I show how attempts by Ugandan women to control their sexuality, define themselves as cosmopolitan citizens and as independent women were met with resistance by both state and non-state actors who perceived women’s agendas as undermining social order."