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The British Academy awards a Fellowship to Dr Yuliya Hilevych for project on social history of infertility in Britain

last modified Dec 11, 2017 04:54 PM

The British Academy has awarded a two-year Newton International Fellowship to Dr Yuliya Hilevych to undertake a project on social history of infertility in Britain


In January 2018, Yuliya Hilevych is starting as a Newton International Fellow of the British Academy at the Faculty of History on a project to study the social history of infertility in Britain. She will work with Prof Simon Szreter.


Yuliya Hilevych holds a PhD (2016) from Wageningen University, a joint degree with Radboud University, in the Netherlands. Previously, she held research positions at Radboud University and the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), and participated in research projects for the United Nations and the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security.



About the project:

The ART of Conception Before Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Infertility Identities in Britain, c.1945-1980


Infertility experiences such as those of adoptive parents, impotent husbands and childless wives have rarely found their place in history. The invention of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) in 1978 placed infertility at the core of social studies and with it increased the public visibility of a range of modern reproductive identities: from cross-border reproductive tourists and surrogate mothers, to same-sex parents and desperate childless women. But are these identities as new as they seem? What has been the role of pre-IVF experiences of infertility in shaping contemporary reproductive identities and views on reproduction and parenthood overall?

This project seeks to trace historical continuities surrounding previously marginalised experiences of infertility and the reproductive identities that emerged from these experiences in the period from c.1945 to 1980, before reproduction began to be commercialised through assisted reproductive technologies (ART). By taking Britain, a leader in medical research on reproductive medicine and the birthplace of IVF, as a social laboratory, it will primarily focus on infertility counselling and grassroots activism. It draws on various sources, such as counselling material for couples, general practitioners and doctors, magazines for men and women, as well as archives of the Family Planning Association, National Marriage Guidance Council, the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relations, Cambridge Women’s Liberation Group Archive, Women’s Information, Referral and Enquiry Service; Achilles Heel collective, and personal archives of doctors held at the Wellcome Library.