Ourselves Unborn

Ourselves Unborn : A History of the Fetus in Modern America

3.47 (21 ratings by Goodreads)
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During the past several decades, the fetus has been diversely represented in political debates, medical textbooks and journals, personal memoirs and autobiographies, museum exhibits and mass media, and civil and criminal law. Ourselves Unborn argues that the meanings people attribute to the fetus are not based simply on biological fact or theological truth, but are in fact strongly influenced by competing definitions of personhood and identity, beliefs about knowledge and authority, and assumptions about gender roles and sexuality. In addition, these meanings can be shaped by dramatic historical change: over the course of the twentieth century, medical and technological changes made fetal development more comprehensible, while political and social changes made the fetus a subject of public controversy. Moreover, since the late nineteenth century, questions about how fetal life develops and should be valued have frequently intersected with debates about the authority of science and religion, and the relationship between the individual and society. In examining the contested history of fetal meanings, Sara Dubow brings a fresh perspective to these vital debates.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 164 x 240 x 32mm | 619.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195323432
  • 9780195323436
  • 1,311,921

Review quote

Dubow offers up an important contribution to the field, forcing the reader to contend both with why the fetus is such a fascinating topic for investigation and the deeper social tensions expressed in each conversation about the objects. ... this book stands as an important contribution to the field. * Shannon K. Withycombe, Journal of the History of Medicine * a welcome addition to this field * Tatjana Buklijas, Social History of Medicine * Hundreds of thousands of pages have been written about abortion but none so original as Sara Dubow's history of the fetus * Linda Gordon, History Workshop Journal * Sara Dubow's work is interesting... [it] offers a new look at an issue that is yet to be picked up with this gusto outside the United States. * Dr Vaidehi Nathan, The Organiser. * A compelling and well-paced historical account that gives a good sense of the characters, places and politics of the abortion debate...this careful book alloows the reader to navigate a course through highly-politicised waters. * The Economist. * Sara Dubow synthesizes an impressive range of material from medical textbooks to cartoons, legislative debates and popular science to convincingly argue that different meanings of the foetus have been determined largely by social values - beliefs about motherhood, class and race - and political circumstances... a timely, well researched book. * The Times Literary Supplement *show more

About Sara Dubow

Sara Dubow is Assistant Professor of History at Williams College.show more

Table of contents


Rating details

21 ratings
3.47 out of 5 stars
5 10% (2)
4 52% (11)
3 19% (4)
2 14% (3)
1 5% (1)
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