Nicole Bourbonnais


Spoken languages
English, French, Spanish
Areas of expertise
  • Civil society, social movements, Trade Unions, NGOs
  • Development, cooperation and aid policies
  • Gender, women and public policies
  • Global health, global health diplomacy, global health governance, medical anthropology
  • Human rights
  • International organisations, UN
  • Redistribution policies, social inequalities, poverty
  • Religion and politics
Geographical Region of Expertise
  • Central America
  • South America


Dr. Nicole Bourbonnais is an Associate Professor of International History and Politics at the Graduate Institute.  Her research explores the intersections between the “private” sphere (gender relations, sex, reproduction, and the family), national/international politics, and transnational activism. Her first book, Birth Control in the Decolonizing Caribbean: Reproductive Politics and Practice on Four Islands, 1930-1970 (Cambridge University Press, 2016) traces how birth control campaigns in Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, and Bermuda were shaped concurrently by colonialism, nationalism, social activism, and working class women’s efforts to control their reproductive lives.  Her next major project, The Gospel of Birth Control: Prophets, Patients, and the Global Family Planning Movement uses intermediary actors – the fieldworkers, doctors, and nurses sent out by international organizations and the local colleagues they worked with – as a vector to connect global and local histories of family planning.  She is also interested in the links between anti-racist and feminist activism in the early twentieth century and the history of maternal and child health.

Dr. Bourbonnais received her BA from the University of British Colombia (Vancouver) and MA/PhD in History from the University of Pittsburgh.  She teaches courses and supervises theses on the subjects of reproductive politics, social history, the history of gender/sexuality, transnational activism, Latin American and Caribbean history, and the history of public health and medicine.





Peer-reviewed Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Book reviews

  • “Review of Sasha Turner, Contested Bodies: Pregnancy, Childrearing, and Slavery in Jamaica, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine (Winter, 2018).
  • “Review of Juanita de Barros and Sean Stilwell, eds., Public Health and the Imperial Project, (Africa World Press, 2016),” Medical History 61.1 (2017): 134-135.
  • “Review of Juanita de Barros, Reproducing the British Caribbean: Sex, Gender and Population Politics after Slavery (University of North Carolina Press, 2014),” Canadian Journal of History 50.2 (2015): 380-382.

Works in Progress

  • The Gospel of Birth Control: Prophets, Patients, and the Global Family Planning Movement, book-length project.
  • Mother Earth: Global Institutions and Maternal Health, book-length project.

Media and Policy Papers

Nicole Bourbonnais

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