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Reproductive Bodylore: The Role of Vernacular Knowledge in Contraceptive Decision-making

Reproductive Bodylore: The Role of Vernacular Knowledge in Contraception Decision-making

A Folklore Society online talk by Dr Victoria Newton (Open University)

Tuesday 16 January 2024, 18:00-19:30

A lot of what we know about the body is communicated informally, through conversations with friends, with family, and with our wider social network. Informal narratives about contraception cross several folkloric genres – personal experience narratives, popular belief, contemporary legend and ‘friend of a friend’ stories. These narratives are important because they can reveal much about everyday understandings of health and the body, including perceived risk and risk-behaviours. The Reproductive Bodylore project explores how vernacular knowledge influences contraceptive choices and mediates experiences of reproductive control.

‘Bodylore’ in the simplest terms is ‘folklore of the body’, but bodylore also includes the body as a discursive site. Bodylore therefore covers culture, customs, traditions, knowledge, and belief about the body, and the body’s role in communication, in social meaning and identity formation, and interactions in everyday life (Young, 1994; Milligan, 2018). Contemporary folklore about the reproductive body and contraception is difficult to study and subject to reproductive stigmas. In this talk I shall discuss the usefulness of interdisciplinary study for tackling real world, difficult, and sensitive issues. The Reproductive Bodylore project brings together reproductive health and folklore research in a new and exciting way. Both Public England and The Folklore Society collaborated on the project and this is the first time that research in the UK has brought together these different partners.

Through this presentation I will share the research journey and project findings, as well as our plans for the project to have a positive impact on supporting future contraceptive choices. I conclude the talk with some discussion about participatory methods in folklore research, and my reflections on applied folklore research as an area for future growth.

Victoria Newton is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at The Open University.

Tickets £6.00 (£4.00 for Folklore Society members with the Promo Code: please log in to the Members Area to get the Promo Code) https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reproductive-bodylore-vernacular-knowledge-and-contraception-decisions-tickets-772186178647?

Every ticket sold helps to support the work of The Folklore Society

Acknowledgement: Reproductive Bodylore: The Role of Vernacular Knowledge in Women’s Contraceptive Decision-Making was funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Grant (AH/S011587/1) and led by a team at The Open University (OU) in partnership with Public Health England and The Folklore Society.

Image: Bodylore Project, design by Liminal Space