International History and Politics
19 September 2023

Introducing the Oral History Archive

Featuring transnational reproductive rights, and a general archive collected by students and researchers, the Oral History Archive is a new contribution from the International History & Politics Department.

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. Our newest oral histories can be viewed here. The full archive is also stored in the Graduate Institute’s searchable Digital Collections.


Transnational Reproductive Rights

In September 1992, women’s health advocates from around the world gathered 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. 


General Oral History Archive

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.

As of now, the general archive tells the stories of Geneva’s queer histories, migration trajectories to the city, feminisms and participation in feminist movements, and individual life histories. The website and archive will be updated every semester, with new contributions from students and researchers.

For more information, or if you would like to contribute to the archive, please contact Nicole Bourbonnais at nicole.bourbonnais[at]