CfP: Childbirth Technologies & Techniques (deadline March 15 2021)


Dr. Scottie Hale Buehler, University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Margaret Carlyle, University of British Columbia Okanagan

Open Call for Papers: We invite contributions of articles to a special journal issue focusing on the technological culture of childbirth broadly defined. We are particularly interested in how novel technologies, as well as techniques, changed birthing practices over the long term, from the Middle Ages to the present day. We welcome papers on any aspect of this material culture. This especially includes research that nuances claims of technology-as-progress or that complicates existing narratives about the man-midwife’s takeover of midwifery with the forceps. We also welcome new stories about the history of childbirth practices, women’s technological ingenuity, and the very definition of childbirth ‘technology’ itself.

This issue aims to generate new discussion about the history of childbirth using material culture as a starting point for thinking about obstetrical practices, technologies, and techniques. We welcome discussion of tools, instruments, and techniques both inside and outside of the birthing chamber, in order to develop a more comprehensive picture of the technological culture around birthing over time. The geographic focus of papers is open and the time period is roughly 1400–present.

Technologies and techniques are not limited to the moment of delivery and can focus on pre- and post-partum practices and can include instruments used for diagnostic, anthropometric, practical, quantitative, and educational purposes (e.g. pre-partum diagnostic tools, infant feeding techniques, obstetrical teaching models). We also welcome papers that explore the technological culture of childbirth in relation to gender, race, imperial history, and slavery.

Topics might include but are not limited to:

  • History of techniques, manual dexterity, and embodied knowledge
  • Techniques and technologies of midwifery & man-midwifery
  • Objects, instruments, techniques used medically for childbirth
  • Material cultures of childbirth
  • Entanglements of technologies and conceptions of the birthing body
  • Instruments of control and surveillance in childbirth
  • Sociomaterial practices of childbirth

Submissions: The editors welcome scholarly submissions from academics and researchers in the fields of history; history of science, technology, and medicine; gender and women’s studies; and related disciplines.

For consideration, please submit a 300-word abstract of your proposed paper, including your title and institutional affiliation, to on or before March 15 2021. If your paper proposal is accepted, you will be asked to submit a completed essay of 7,000-8,000 words in Winter 2021-22.

Papers must be original and should not be previously published or be under review elsewhere for publication. All manuscripts will be subject to a blind peer-review process before they are accepted for publication.

Publication Details & Timeline: Following acceptance of paper topics, the editors will submit a special issue proposal to Technology and Culture ( Should this proposal not work out, we are committed to finding another suitable top tier journal for our publication in a timely fashion. We will ask contributors to provide us with a full article by Winter 2021–22, with an anticipated publication sometime in 2023. More details on the paper submission process will be provided once your proposal has been accepted.

Contact Info: 

Dr. Scottie Hale Buehler, University of Texas at Austin and Dr. Margaret Carlyle, University of British Columbia Okanagan

Contact Email: