Research page

The Oral History Archive consists of two projects: the collection of oral histories with advocates prominent in the late 20th century transnational reproductive rights movement, and a general archive including a range of oral histories collected by students and researchers at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies as part of their coursework or research projects. Visit the tabs below to explore each of the projects.

A complete catalogue of oral histories is available in the Oral History Collection of the Graduate Institute's Digital Collections.

Reproductive Rights Oral History Project


In September 1992, women’s health advocates from around the world gathered together to prepare for the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.  Together, they agreed on the need for a strong positive statement by women to help set the agenda for ICPD 1994, one that would challenge the existing population agenda and reorient it around the concept of reproductive health and rights.  The result was the “Women’s Declaration on Population Policies,” signed by 2,539 individuals and organizations from over 110 countries.  This was followed in 1994 by the more expansive “Rio Statement” on Reproductive Health and Justice, produced after a meeting of 215 women from 79 countries in Rio de Janeiro in January 1994.  Together, these documents outlined a thorough critique of the status quo in population policies, outlining the fundamental ethical principles and necessary conditions needed to ensure a woman-centered, rights-focused approach.  They played a powerful role in shaping the Programme of Action established at Cairo in 1994, as well as the rise of the global reproductive rights movement more broadly. 

This oral history project traces the life histories of key activists who were involved in these activities, exploring how their broader trajectory/life experiences shaped their role in the reproductive rights movement and their activism more broadly. The interviews thus provide material of broad relevance to those interested in histories of population control, reproductive rights, feminism, global health, development, and international activism.

Oral histories were collected by Nicole Bourbonnais, Associate Professor of International History and Politics at the Graduate Institute. 


Adetoun Ilumoka | Amparo Claro | Marge Berer

Peggy Antrobus | Rosalind Petchesky | T.K. Sundari Ravindran





Adeotoun Ilumoka Portrait

Adetoun Ilumoka

Dr Adetoun Ilumoka was born and raised in Nigeria, mainly in the city of Lagos. She has several years experience working as a lawyer, teacher and an advocate for social justice focusing on health, gender equality and socio-economic development in Africa. An accomplished law and policy researcher, she has done extensive work on human rights, constitutional development and land law, making vital linkages between academic research, policy and programs that improve people’s lives. Her recent research examines the transformation of custom and law within the context of power struggles in Africa and prospects for re-establishing meaningful citizenship for vulnerable groups through local community development and empowerment programmes.

This three-part interview is available for listening. The full transcript can be downloaded below.



Adetoun Ilumoka



Amparo Claro Portrait

Amparo Claro


Amparo Claro was born on November 5, 1939 in Santiago, Chile. She studied in a Catholic School and in the Chilean Conservatory for Song and Music. She married an architect in 1960 and had two daughters. She lived in Paris one year and also in the US, where she divorced. She then came back to Chile and began to work in different fields until she could live independently with her daughters. At that time, she became a feminist and worked with a group against the Pinochet dictatorship. In 1984, in a meeting in Colombia she was chosen by Latin American feminist organizations as Coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean Women ́s Health Network (LACWHN), where she worked until the year 2000. At present she lives by herself in Santiago near the pre-cordillera.


This two-part interview is available for listening. The full transcript can be downloaded below.



Amparo Claro







Marge Berer Portait.png

Marge Berer


Marge Berer was the founder editor of the journal Reproductive Health Matters (October 1992-April 2015). She has been a co-coordinator of the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion (ICWRSA) since May 2015. She was made an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare of the RCOG (November 2017). She was a co-founder and chair of the Steering Committee, of the International Consortium for Medical Abortion (2002-2011). She has participated in a number of advisory panels at WHO, including on abortion guidance, sexual rights and FGM. She is a member of Voice for Choice, the UK coalition of pro-choice organisations, and was its chair (2007- 2010). In 2007, she received the Olivia Schieffelin Nordberg Award (Population Council) for excellence in writing and editing in the population sciences. She was the first chairwoman of the Gender Advisory Panel, WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research (1996-2001), and a member of the IPPF International Women’s Advisory Panel (1993-98). She has been working in the UK and internationally since 1976 as an advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights. She worked for the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights from 1985 to 1990. She published a book in four languages on women, HIV and sexual and reproductive health in 1993-95, and has published many articles. She has also been involved in advocacy work against the criminalisation of FGM in the UK. She has a blog (Berer Blog), regularly gives presentations and lectures to post-graduate students, and has co-organised both large and small international conferences, workshops and seminars, starting with the Fourth International Women & Health Meeting 1984 and most recently a three-day workshop at the Reproductive Justice Conference (South Africa 2018) and the International Forum, International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion ICWRSA (Lisbon 2018).


The transcript of this interview is available upon request at the Graduate Institute Archives by writing to archives[at]






Peggy Antrobus Portrait

Peggy Antrobus


Peggy Antrobus (born in Grenada in 1935) has been involved in programs for the advancement of women’s rights and development since the 1970s when she set up the Women’s Bureau in Jamaica. She established the Women and Development Unit (WAND) at the University of the West Indies in 1978 and was a founding member of the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA) and DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era). As DAWN’s General-Coordinator from 1990-96, she was actively involved in the work around the UN International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) that took place in Cairo. She has written several articles and chapters in books and her book The Global Women’s Movement: origins, issues and strategies was published by Zed Books in 2004.

The transcript of this interview is available upon request at the Graduate Institute Archives by writing to archives[at]




Rosalind Petchesky Portrait

Rosalind Petchesky


Rosalind Petchesky is Distinguished Professor Emerita (retired) of Political Science at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is a widely published feminist scholar and recipient of a MacArthur (“genius”) Fellowship. Along with a lifetime of active involvement in social justice and anti war movements, she was one of the original activists in CARASA, the Committee for Abortion Rights & Against Sterilization Abuse beginning in the late 1970s. Her first book, Abortion and Woman’s Choice: The state, sexuality and reproductive freedom (1990, revised) was cited by the United States Supreme Court in its landmark decision, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992) and received an award from the American Historical Association. This book will be republished by Verso Books as part of its Feminist Classics series in early 2024. Prof. Petchesky's many subsequent articles and books in the field of reproductive and sexual rights and justice (notably, Global Prescriptions: Gendering health and human rights, Zed 2003 and Bloomsbury, digital version, 2021) have been translated, distributed and read in countries across the globe.

Prof. Petchesky was the founder and coordinator of the International Reproductive Rights Research Action Group (IRRRAG), a consortium of teams from seven countries in the global south and north that did field research during the 1990s and presented their findings at the 1994 Cairo conference and in numerous publications, including the book Negotiating Reproductive Rights: Women’s Experiences across countries and cultures (1998). Since 2013 Professor Petchesky has been an active member of Jewish Voice for Peace and part of the New York City chapter’s leadership team, with whom she co-edited/authored A Land With A People: Palestinians and Jews confront Zionism (Monthly Review, 2021). She lives in New York City with her two cats and is the proud grandmother of Anna and Jack Macias Petchesky.


This two-part interview is available for listening. The full transcript can be downloaded below.




R. Petchesky





TK Sundari Ravindran Portrait

T.K. Sundari Ravindran


TK Sundari Ravindran is currently a Senior Editor of the international journal Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters. She holds a Ph.D in Applied Economics and served for twenty years as Professor of Public Health in the Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum. Sundari’s research interests include inequities in health, with a focus on gender-based inequities, sexual and reproductive health and rights, political economy of health and health systems research. She has been a researcher and an activist, and a trainer working at the local and international levels for close to four decades. Sundari is a founder Member of Rural Women’s Social Education Centre (RUWSEC), a grassroots women’s health organisation in Tamil Nadu, and has been involved in the organisation’s activities in various capacities for forty years, since its inception in 1981. She is also a founder-member of CommonHealth, a National Coalition for Reproductive Health and Safe abortion (India).


This three-part interview is available for listening. The full transcript can be downloaded below.



T.K.S. Ravindran





This collection consists of oral histories collected by students and researchers at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies as part of their coursework or research projects. The narrators come from diverse backgrounds and recount a wide range of different trajectories, allowing us to see a broader spectrum of historical experience.


Oral Histories by Theme:


Oral Histories by Name:

Deep Das | Juji Faure | Grazia Gonik | Mahnoor Khan | Elisabeth Hafner-Lanz

Werner Hafner-Lanz | Pierre Ogay | Delcia Orona





Geneva Queer Histories


There is not much documentation on the history of queer social spaces in Geneva, Switzerland. Despite same sex marriage being legalized in the country only in 2021, queer social spaces have been around for decades and allow queer individuals a safe location to socialize regardless of surrounding political conversations. Historically, queer spaces have been dominated specifically by gay rhetoric and culture – such as the title of “gay bar” and being spaces primarily made up of men who love men. With the domination of gay-male specific rhetoric, the large remaining portion of the LGBTQIA+ community, in particular queer women and non-binary individuals, are left without a social space.


The three following interviews were conducted by Amanda Monroe, a second-year master’s student at the Geneva Graduate Institute in Development Studies. While her typical research regards the intersection of urbanization and humanitarianism, she also has a personal interest in queer histories and politics. She is an active member, and former Administrative Chair, for the Queer International Student Assembly. In general, Amanda considers herself to be active within the Genevan queer social space.



Portrait of Pierre Ogay, interviewed for the Oral History Project by Amanda Monroe

Pierre Ogay

Interviewed by Amanda Monroe


Pierre Ogay is the founder and owner of le Phare, a queer bar in Geneva, Switzerland. He has lived in Geneva since 1998, when he relocated to the city for his mandatory civil service in place of joining the Swiss army. Prior to opening le Phare, he managed other bars and seasonal terraces. Though he does not consider himself an activist, Pierre has a strong presence within the queer community in Geneva. Aside from running the bar, Pierre is interested in rock climbing and food systems.

This interview aims to understand the beginnings of one of Geneva’s most popular queer bars, le Phare. It discusses the conception of the bar and how it came to receive the queer identity that it has today. Interestingly, this interview follows the founder, who has continuously owned the bar, on his journey of creating an “open bar,” gaining insight into defining the unique “queerness” of le Phare, extending beyond the typical “gay bar” definition oriented only towards men and into a more inclusive realm. The interview explores broadly why the bar attracts a queer audience. Although in conversation with a native French speaker, the following interview was conducted in English with some French words maintained.


This interview is available for listening. The full transcript can be downloaded below.



Pierre Ogay




Juji Faure

Interviewed by Amanda Monroe


Juji Faure is a second-year master’s student in neuroscience at the University of Geneva. Originally from Grenoble, France, they moved to Geneva in 2020 to pursue their graduate degree. While in Geneva, Juji began a social group, Sapphics in Geneva, to bring together individuals who consider themselves to be a part of the queer sapphic community. The group, who primarily exists on WhatsApp and Instagram, has grown to over 200 individuals. They also are a former member who was heavily involved in Think Out, the University of Geneva’s queer student association.

This interview aims to understand the perspective of a frequent patron of le Phare, and other queer social spaces in Geneva. It discusses what they believe makes a space queer and defines the difference between mere queer-friendly spaces versus overtly queer spaces. The interview follows the thought processes of an individual who planned dozens of queer events for groups encompassing all different queer identities. This interview investigates Geneva more broadly and what it is missing in regard to queer social spaces.


This interview is available for listening. The full transcript can be downloaded below.



Juji Faure




Delica Orona Portrait

Delcia Orona

Interviewed by Amanda Monroe

Delcia Orona, a Colorado native, is currently in the first year of their second master’s degree at the Geneva University of Art and Design. Prior to this degree, she received her first master’s in Anthropology and Sociology at the Geneva Graduate Institute. She moved to Geneva in 2020 after receiving their bachelor’s from the University of California at Santa Barbara. While in Geneva, Delcia has been a queer activist, including being the former president of the Queer International Student Assembly. She continues to be actively involved within queer spaces within the university system and beyond.

This interview looks at the intersection between queer activism and social life in analyzing the relationship between queerness and radical politics. It discusses the personal journey of the interviewee’s self-discovery of queerness and its connections with narratives of a more liberal Europe. Broadly the interview assesses the relationship between space and identity, in particular within the Genevan context, at bars such as le Phare. A general comparison of Geneva to other major European cities is pivotal to the conversation, as is understanding inclusivity within queerness.


This interview is available for listening. The full transcript can be downloaded below.



Delcia Orona



Deep Das Portrait

Deep Das

Interviewed by Saheli Chatterjee

Deep Das is the owner and chef at Burmese Bahar, a Burmese-cuisine restaurant in Kolkata, India. He is also a Fine Arts graduate from Kala Bhavan, Shantiniketan.

The purpose of the interview was getting to know Deep Das’s restaurant Burmese Bahar and understanding the inspiration behind it. The interview was conducted in the context of a broader PhD project that explores the history of circulation of Bengali families between British India and British Burma during 1900s-1970s. The interview traces Deep Das’s connection to Burma explored through his grandmother’s childhood in Rangoon up until the early 1940s. The interview explores the stories about Burma that Deep recollects his didan once shared with him and how it profoundly influenced creating Burmese Bahar in Kolkata.

The interview was conducted in Bengali and has been subsequently translated and transcribed by the interviewer, Saheli Chatterjee. The translations and transcriptions have been authorized by the narrator for publication and usage.


Saheli Chatterjee is a doctoral student at the Department of International History and Politics at the Geneva Graduate Institute. Her PhD research explores the repatriation of the Indian community from Burma to India during the 1960s-80s and addresses broader themes related to the partition between India and Burma.




Deep Das




Grazia Gonik Portrait

Grazia Gonik

Interviewed by Paolo Bellone

Grazia Gonik is a former member of the feminist movement who lived the experience of ’68 and traveled across many countries in the following years observing the evolution and differences in the feminist movement. This interview with Grazia Gonik discusses feminism, self-identity, and changes in a globalized world. The goal was to observe, through Grazia’s personal history, the changes that shaped the feminist movement throughout the second part of the XX century and the beginning of the XXI. It is also interesting to note how the role of interviewer and interviewee change during the interview.

Paolo Bellone is a student of the Master in International History and Politics program at The Graduate Institute. He previously studied History and Cultural Anthropology in Italy, France and Morocco.








Elisabeth Hafner-Lanz Portrait  Werner Hafner-Lanz Portrait

Elizabeth and WErner Hafner-Lanz

Interviewed by Nicolas Hafner


This oral history collection consists of separate interviews with Elizabeth and Werner Hafner-Lanz, a couple who have been together since 1975 (married 1990). Parents of two sons (Nicolas, 1991, and Florian, 1994). Elizabeth, born in 1958, daughter of Jürg and Madeleine Lanz-Urben, oldest sibling of six, worked as a primary school teacher, curative education teacher, counsellor, and supervisor for over 40 years, taking on various roles and tasks at all levels within schools, until she retired in 2020. Werner, born in 1953, son of Wilhelm and Margrit Hafner (born Camenisch), older sibling of two, was a trained electrical engineer, later SAP basis specialist. He worked for over 40 years in IT, first writing software for a fire alarm system manufacturer, later as an SAP basis consultant (SAP is a software to manage business operations) before retiring in 2018.

Elizabeth Hafner-Lanz’s oral history interview reflects on her life at large, and more specifically on her childhood, and how her childhood impacted her as a person. In particular, she recounts how the traumatic loss of a close relative impacted her family system, her later life decisions, and her romantic relationship with Werner Hafner-Lanz (born 1953). In the second part of the interview, Elisabeth Hafner-Lanz recounts her professional life, how her relationship of almost 50 years with Werner Hafner-Lanz evolved, her journey in overcoming her traumas, how she decided to have children, and what feminism means to her.

Werner Hafner-Lanz’s (born 1953) oral history recounts childhood memories of his upbringing in the outskirts of Zurich, his fascination with flying, and how his career path evolved from an electrical engineer to an SAP basis consultant. He describes the technological changes he witnessed over the course of his life, from the telephone to the first personal computers at his office. In the second part of the interview, he remembers his time in the Swiss army, what the Cold War meant to him, and how he related to the student protests in the 1970s. He also reflects on the almost 50 years of relationship with his wife Elisabeth Hafner-Lanz.

Nicolas Hafner is the son of Elisabeth Hafner-Lanz and Werner Hafner-Lanz, born in 1991, and currently a PhD student in International History and Politics at the Geneva Graduate Institute.

The transcripts of these interviews are available upon request at the Graduate Institute Archives by writing to archives[at]



Mahnoor Khan Portrait


Interviewed by Snigdha Agarwal Srinivas


This oral history seeks to understand the intergenerational impact of the Partition of India and Pakistan. On 15 August 1947, two independent nation-states emerged from one of the greatest migrations in human history. The separation of identities forced communities that had previously coexisted to create binary categories for themselves - as a Hindu or a Muslim. Around 18 million people were uprooted from their homes, forced to pack their livelihoods, and move across the subcontinent; thousands did not survive the journey and between two hundred thousand and two million people died.

Through a structured, subject-oriented interview - while also incorporating elements of a family history approach - this interview explores the generational transmission of violence and trauma and assesses the role of emotive security in rehabilitation and reconciliation processes.

Mahnoor Khan is a second year Master's student at the Geneva Graduate Institute. A Pakistan national, she is specialising in Conflict, Peace and Security. An avid reader and writer, Mahnoor's articles have been published in the Graduate Press, the university's student newspaper. Mahnoor is interested in working on projects related to sustainable development, food security, and gender equality.

Snigdha Agarwal Srinivas is a second year Master's student at the Geneva Graduate. An Indian national, she is specialising in Conflict, Peace and Security. She is interested in working on projects related to peacebuilding, diplomacy, and reconciliation in conflict environments.