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Stuart Hall Library Research Network: More-than-Human Care

Research Network Reading Group: Language of Empire in Reproductive Rights Nicole C. Bourbonnais and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

25 Jul 2019
  • Venue


  • Address

    16 John Islip Street

  • Time


  • Admission

    Free, but booking required.

“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body” – Margaret Sanger in Birth Control in Decolonizing Caribbean.
“The slave system was upheld by a violent system of punishment justified by a racist ideology that cast black skin as sign of biological inferiority; it was also (as historian Jennifer Morgan has stressed) maintained by control over black women’s reproductive labor” – Nicole C. Bourbonnais

Following on from our Research Network event “Long Graceful Grasses” with Dr Luiza Prado and Dr Annabel Sowemimo, we will examine literature on the colonisation of sexual and reproductive health and the efforts of grassroots and feminist movements to increase access to modern birth control in the Caribbean.

Join us in investigating the role of language in dissuading the spread of contraception and black and brown women’s rights to have control over their own bodies as we read from Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s “Decolonise the Mind: The politics of Language in African Literature” and Nicole C. Bourbonnais’ “Birth Control in the Decolonizing Caribbean”.

We will discuss the tool of indigenous storytelling in the spread of alternative methods of birth control in the Global South, the activism and debates about birth control and seek to answer how birth control is a valuable way of empowering empower men and women to build healthy communities and means of self-care.

This group is open to all; it is a supportive and peer-led space for thinking and learning together. It is a space for constructive disagreements and critical engagement that is always based on mutual respect, interest and care.

All texts are read together in the group, you don’t need to read them in advance. Please contact the library if you have any questions or wish to pick up a copy of the texts in advance: library@iniva.org


Nicole Bourbonnais is Assistant Professor of International History at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. Her research focuses the history of birth control and reproductive politics in the English-speaking Caribbean and a larger study of transnational birth control/reproductive rights activism in the twentieth century.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is an award-winning, world-renowned Kenyan writer and academic who writes primarily in Gikuyu. His work includes novels, plays, short stories, and essays, ranging from literary and social criticism to children’s literature. He is the founder and editor of the Gikuyu-language journal Mũtĩiri and currently Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine.