Call for Papers: Beyond Binaries: Gender, Sexuality, and Medicine Across Post-War Europe, 1945-1991

A workshop organised by the Centre for the Study of Health, Ethics and Society, University of Hamburg

Friday 9 June and Saturday 10 June 2023, Warburg-Haus, Hamburg

How can gender and sexuality – broadly conceived both methodologically and thematically – help to inform historical understanding of the role of medicine in post-war Europe? This conference will bring together scholars working in different disciplines to examine how theoretical approaches incorporating gender and sexuality can shed light on medical ethics, scientific practices, and policymaking associated with health across the ideological divide. How can histories of gender and sexuality greater illuminate individual medical experiences and the complex relations between patients, doctors, policymakers, pharmaceutical companies, and medical ethicists during the Cold War period? 

We are particularly interested in papers which examine gender, sexuality, and medicine in Central and Eastern Europe in order to gain greater insight into how medicine was imagined, managed, sold and experienced across Europe. Exploring gender and sexuality in the context of post-war medicine can help us to discern potential similarities in medical practices, policies, and experiences across Europe, which moves beyond the security context and ideological differences of the Cold War to highlight the exchange of scientific ideas across the “Iron Curtain”. Examining gender, sexuality and medicine in the post-war period can bring about a new scholarly perspective on Europe: as a continent that was to some extent united by shared experiences, policies, and beliefs.

We plan to publish the conference papers in the form of an edited collection.

Subjects of papers might include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Reproduction: abortion, contraception, reproductive rights, sexology
  • Prophylaxis: vaccination, healthcare campaigns
  • Clinical trials and human experimentation 
  • Medical experiences of trans-, non-binary, and queer persons
  • Concepts of normality, enhancement, disability, and pathology
  • Gendered natures and implications of ethical codes
  • Gender inequalities in access to medical care and health responsibilities
  • Representations of gender and sexuality in media and the arts
  • Forms of protest and resistance: patients, professional groups
  • Role of data science and genetics in targeted medicine
  • Psy-disciplines: psychology, psychiatry, psychodrama, psychoanalysis etc
  • Theoretical reflections on the writing of gender and sexuality 

Please send a 250-word abstract and title, together with your institutional affiliation and a brief bio, to Dr Kate Docking ( by 6 February 2023.

Accommodation and meals for accepted speakers will be provided by the conference organisers.