Race and the postwar British SRH charities and politics,
a transnational perspective
The first strand of this research project is carried out by Caroline Rusterholz and focuses on the macro level by exploring the ways in which British SRH charities and policies have problematized minoritised SRH needs over time in postwar Britain. It locates British SRH services within the changing landscape of international reproductive politics, more specifically international debates about population policy, overpopulation SRH and rights. It takes a number of SRH charities as case studies, namely the Family Planning Association, the Margaret Pyke Centre, and the Brook Advisory Centre. These charities have been chosen on the criteria that they were, and for some still are, the leading charities in SRH services in Britain. These national charities were also affiliated to international non-governmental organisations, such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and had close connections with the Population Council and the World Health Organisation.
Drawing on archival sources from these charities and international organisations (IPPF, WHO, Population Council), medical research publications on minoritised individual’s SRH, clinical trials, SRH policies and campaigns, parliamentary debates, SRH statistics, sexual and demographic surveys, and mass media articles on minoritised populations and SRH (Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Telegraph, Guardian), this research traces the extent to which British SRH services have been racilialized over time. This analysis rests on the hypothesis that SRH services and provision were based on the idea of middle-class whiteness as the ‘norm’. In so doing, it will show the diversity and multiplicity of those who were deemed ‘the other’ in sexual and reproductive terms, and how this othering process relies on shifting categories or race and ethnicity and how these categories have evolved over time. The stream asks:
- Did SRH services ease the process of clients’ assimilation into British norms by conveying standards of ‘good sexual behaviour’?
- To what extent did SRH services contribute to the othering of minoritised communities?
- What was the impact of international and national debates and laws about population control, migration, and SRH and rights on British SRH provision?
This research strand will therefore historicise the ‘othering’ process by paying particular attention to the racial stereotypes underpinning the provision of sexual health services. It will determine the extent to which eugenicist ideas about whose fertility should be encouraged and discouraged remained prevalent in the provision of SRH services in postwar Britain, and whether this idea was reconfigured and applied to minoritised communities. In so doing, it will show the diversity and multiplicity of those who were deemed ‘the other’ in sexual and reproductive terms and how these categories have evolved over time. To do so, this strand explores three key concerns that gave rise to specific politics aimed at minoritised communities but which did not necessarily answer these communities’ needs, not least because some of the politics were physically and psychologically harmful. These concerns were 1) the alleged hyper-fertility of Black families 2) the Black teenage mum and 3) the prevalence of abortion.