This research network combines the disciplinary approaches of historians and midwives to investigate the concept of childbirth "risk" from a historical perspective. The concept of risk stands at the heart of childbirth-management in Britain today, and seems to provide a suitably objective measure to guide practice and policy; yet the hegemony of that concept is open to challenge on a number of grounds. It is relatively novel historically, and post-dates most of the great advances in the technical management of birth; its theoretical meaning is problematical, as has been widely discussed in the social sciences; and in practical terms its application has led to paradoxes, such as the concentration of normal births in obstetric units designed to deal with difficult cases. The project will bring a fresh perspective on this issue by approaching it historically. Conversely, it will enrich the discipline of history by bringing the theme of risk into focus in the specific context of childbirth. The history of childbirth has flourished in Britain for some time (the PI and co-I are leading contributors to this field), but until now, risk has played at the most a walk-on part in studies of this theme. So too historians in general have been slow to take up the interest in risk that has been underway for a generation and more in the social sciences, through the work of such scholars as Mary Douglas, Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens. Addressing risk in the history of childbirth will help to open the historical discipline at large to risk as a topic. The core activities of the network will be three themed workshops, followed by a concluding workshop to plan publications arising from the themed workshops. The outcomes of the project will comprise a cross-disciplinary network; theme issues of two academic journals, one in midwifery or healthcare studies and the other in history; a mobile exhibition on childbirth structured around the theme of risk; a series of 30 videos of historical "birth stories"; and the groundwork for further, and wider, cross-disciplinary collaboration. The first workshop (Brighton) will consider definitions, perceptions and conceptions of risk, focusing particularly on the historical development of the concept of risk and on the ways that risk is perceived, and conceived, by different constituencies. The second meeting (Leeds) will focus on representations of risk, systematically analysing different styles (e.g. epidemiological statistics versus individual stories), forms (such as visual versus verbal) and settings (including technical literature, the internet, the mass media, and museum displays). The third workshop (London) will be devoted to the significance of risk for each of the main relevant constituencies: mothers, fathers, midwives, doctors, health-care planners, policy-makers, and media commentators. The final meeting (Leeds) will be restricted to the steering committee and advisory board, and will be devoted to hammering out the shape of the two themed journal-issues. A key priority will be to maintain the cross-disciplinary perspective of the network within the (necessarily) discipline-specific formats of the two outputs. Engagement will continue after the project through two channels, with the possibility of a third. (a) A mobile exhibition, to be created in the Thackray Museum (project partner) and with the use of their collections, will be toured for display in other museums around the country. (b) Short (3-5 minutes) videos of historical "birth stories", each discussed by a midwife and a historian in such a way as to illuminate risk, will be made publicly available. In addition (c) participant Gemma Newby will make a pitch to Radio 4 for a 30-minute documentary, informed by the network, on the history and significance of childbirth risk.
Since the discovery of the life-saving power of blood transfusion, human blood has become an invaluable resource for treatment in modern biomedicine; however, maintaining a steady and safe supply of blood continues to be a challenge in many societies around the world. Even in wealthier countries where the blood-donation rate has been relatively high, new challenges lie ahead as populations age and new infectious diseases like COVID-19 emerge. This research questions how such issues are prompting new understandings of social identity and belonging around blood. Focusing on Japan and South Korea, where blood has strong symbolic power in relation to kinship, nationhood and pollution, I ask how national identity and social relationships are imagined and contested through blood donation. This extends the existing parameters of social analyses of blood donation, which have tended to focus on altruism and social solidarity. Instead of limiting my inquiry to individuals' motivations to donate blood or the strong bond this creates, I ask how blood donation conjures up concepts of social boundaries around implicit understandings of who should donate to whom and why. By employing a new framework - hematopolitics - I highlight the mundane processes through which these boundaries are drawn and challenged by blood donors, health professionals, patients and larger publics. In order to contextualise these social dynamics within the respective histories of blood banking in the two countries, I will examine archival materials to trace how blood donation has mobilised and changed notions of blood and blood relations since the introduction of blood-banking systems in the mid-twentieth century. In particular, I will scrutinise how blood donation has been established as a practice in citizenship amidst post-war nation-building around beliefs in pure-blooded nationhood in the two countries. I will then interrogate how these historically formed understandings are embodied and contested by people involved in blood banking today. I will visit blood-donation centres and campaigns and talk to blood donors, health professionals at blood banks and patients receiving transfusions. Furthermore, I will underline the perspectives of those who are marginalised in nationalistic imaginaries, such as various ethnic and socioeconomic minorities, to explore how new senses of belonging are emerging via exchanges of blood across social boundaries. I will then further situate these dynamics within the broader cultural politics of blood by examining discourses relating to so-called ideal blood donors, good/pure blood, bad/polluted blood and innocent patients that are circulating on social media. By tracing social dynamics around blood as it flows from blood donors to patients and situating these dynamics within the histories of blood banking and the cultural politics of blood, this research offers a revealing insight into the co-production of social order and health infrastructure. In the context of East Asia, this project will be one of the first to bring well-established work on pure-blood ideology and nationalism into conversation with the critical study of biotechnology. By promoting a biocultural understanding of blood-based nationalism, I unveil how blood donation operates as a site where citizens' relationships with nation-states are embodied and contested. More broadly, this research sheds light on the remaking of social relationships and belonging in the era of biotechnology. It has now become routine practice to take tissues from people to save lives and develop diagnostics, therapeutics and data repositories. These tissue donations are becoming the most visceral contact points between citizens amidst growing economic/political polarisation and health disparities. This research elucidates the potential for social transformation in the ways ordinary people give their body parts for the good of the health of fellow citizens and future generations.
Human beings have always worried about ageing, with special worry reserved for premature ageing. Consequently, we have tried numerous different methods to try and achieve rejuvenation - a state of renewed youth or the appearance of youth. The everyday methods with which we are perhaps most familiar - skin care products, dietary and exercise regimes - have long histories but were transformed in the decades following the First World War, when a wealth of scientific research and new anti-ageing products appeared to promise the ability to prolong youthfulness, fertility and vitality. This Fellowship sets out to examine the impact of the most widespread methods of rejuvenation - injection and application of hormones, using electricity on the body, skincare products, specific diets and exercise regimes - on post-WWI Britain. We already know from previous historical work that the unique socio-political context of interwar Germany precipitated the rise of eugenic ideals about race and biology, as well as beauty and ugliness, whilst at the same time the rising consumer-culture context of the United States enthusiastically embraced technological and scientific developments linked to human ageing. However, Britain in this period has remained largely unstudied, and consequently we risk overstating the significance of developments elsewhere. Concerns about the overall fitness (and fertility) of the population were increased by Britain's participation in the two World Wars, and it is clear that the perceived need for rejuvenation of both individuals and society became a topic of intense debate both in medical and scientific circles and in the wider public sphere. Especially prior to the NHS, manufacturers and entrepreneurs attempted to exploit this fascination, and they claimed that a number of existing therapies had rejuvenating properties, as well as trying to introduce new devices and products. The domestication of electrical lighting and the increasingly wide reach of cinema and photography also placed added pressure on the British public, and particularly women, to look at their best. The Fellowship will explore why rejuvenation was such a prominent matter of public interest in this period, and it will show in what ways the methods used to slow, stop or even reverse ageing helped to define some of the most fundamental elements of what it means to be human. The principal goals are to (i) explain the diversity of approaches to rejuvenation, (ii) examine the different advertising and marketing strategies and their relationship with contemporary scientific perspectives on ageing, and (iii) uncover how everyday habits were changed by anti-ageing products, procedures and lifestyles. Allied to this, the Fellowship will explain how manufacturers of rejuvenation preparations and devices attempted to convince British publics of the efficacy of their products, and show to what extent the target audiences of these products were persuaded by such claims. The Fellowship seeks to explain how and why this period in Britain became such a fruitful environment for different rejuvenation strategies. Drawing on a wide range of archival materials, including the papers of manufacturers and retailers of rejuvenation-related products (such as Boots, Pond's and Elizabeth Arden), newspaper and periodical sources, objects, specialist scientific and medical texts, personal accounts and fictional representations of rejuvenation, the project will link together histories of the body, ageing, the limits of biomedical explanation, everyday medical practice, the impact of global conflict on health and wellbeing, and the medical marketplace, amongst other themes. The Fellowship will consequently deepen our understanding of the historical body and the human condition by demonstrating that ageing and rejuvenation were intimately connected with a wide range of medial, social, cultural and economic factors, including beauty, gender, class, race, warfare, and eugenics.
Context In the previously funded project ('Lifting the Lid on Bacteria') children devised many interesting ideas to help communicate the importance of hand hygiene to their peers when in school toilet spaces. The final overall concept developed was 'Use 123 to get germ free' and this message, and associated messages/graphics were placed imaginatively in cubicles, on washing devices and around the wall areas. The areas where the designs were installed (in 3 primary schools and in Eureka! Museum) became much more colourful, engaging and helped improve hand hygiene by increasing the use of soap by between 41% and 60%. The designs were very well received by the children who helped create them the people that used the space and other stakeholders. The project won the 'Best Education and Research Award' at the E-Bug Conference, London in January 2019 and we have given invited presentations in Denmark and Nepal. We have also published 3 journal articles and have 3 articles under review as part of the previous project. Aims and Objectives This project aims to enhance the commercial viability of our wall-based graphics. In the previous research, through interviews with teachers and children, 3 areas were identified that would exploit the 123 concept further - 1) the need for a classroom-based introduction to the designs, 2) an element of the design that teachers could easily customise or alter when there are outbreaks of infection and 3) a take-home pack for parents to ensure the message moves from school to the home. We propose to carry out these extensions to the concept to create a more desirable '123' package for schools to use and we will work with a partner school, through co-design workshops with teachers, children and parents, to ensure ideas match their needs. Once finalised, the package will be made available to download at minimal cost through a University fast-licensing system and we will identify a reliable printer/materials to recommend to schools. We also aim to share our designs with a wider audience. In the previous project the graphics were placed in 3 schools and a children's museum and we wish to extend their use both to other schools and to tailor the concept for new audiences. Through attendance at a national head teachers conference and by running an event for local schools, we hope to raise awareness of the 123 concept and disseminate the designs further. In terms of new audiences we propose to work with a pre-school to tailor the designs for children under 5 and to develop a script to aid understanding. We also intend to install the designs in the Thackray Medical Museum and understand, through liaison with the museum staff, how to tailor the concept for their visitors. We also will test out and tailor how the design concept works in a new international context, working in a school in Uganda. Two short films will be created that will help bring the concept to life for potential new users. The final stage of the activities involves targeted promotion of the product and contacting potential new organisations who may wish to use the product. Downloads of the product will be monitored and follow-up feedback sought. Potential Application and Benefits Evidence gathered from the previous project highlights an increase in soap usage and reduction in instances of dirty hands. The designs therefore play an important role in infection reduction, improving cleanliness standards overall and enhancing the appeal of spaces. By widening the audience for the designs and developing add-on components to exploit the concept further, more schools, children and parents will benefit, in health terms, from improved hand hygiene. By introducing the work to 3 new audiences we will be able to instil better awareness of hand hygiene at pre-school age, we will be able to customise the designs for adults and broaden the dissemination of the concept and lastly, impact positively upon hygiene habits in a Global South context.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the U.K. has an ageing population. Statisticians predict that "more than a quarter of UK residents will be aged 65 years or over within the next 50 years." Demographers have devised the "dependency ratio" to quantify the difference between (potential) dependents aged 65 and older and working-age members of the population. Demographic predictions suggesting the ratio will rise significantly between 2014 and 2039 alert us to the potential for a care deficit, a significant gap between demand and availability of dependency workers. Caregiving robots, are poised to fill this gap and there is significant public apprehension about the prospect of nonhumans, particularly robots, taking over traditionally human caregiving roles. Titles of recent U.K. newspaper articles -- "A robot carer? No thanks - we still need the human touch" (The Guardian), "Love them or leave them, robot carers are still inhuman" (The Times), and "'Care-bots' for the elderly are dangerous, warns artificial intelligence professor" (The Telegraph) -- provide evidence of this apprehension. Nonhuman caregivers challenge existing models of care that view companionship as distinctly, or even exclusively human. The impending proliferation of a wide variety of caregiving robots complicates the association between "humane" care and the human. This Fellowship examines how representations of human/robot relationships can help us imagine and interpret the ethical, political, and philosophical implications of nonhuman care. How humans regard, use, and relate to care robots is highly dependent on the look, feel and sound of these machines, and how these sensual elements invoke cultural traditions, concepts, and sentiments regarding technology, care, and the nonhuman. Similarly, preexisting cultural and social ideas and feelings can play a significant role in the creation of care robots. This Fellowship considers imaginary robot companions depicted in literature, film and television in order to understand how such representations of nonhuman care reflect, and are reflected by the definitions, ethics, politics, and economics of care. The project stems from a belief that exploring the nuances of robot representation can assist in the development of a posthuman vision of care, that is, an ethic of care that accounts for the complexity of how humans and machines relate.