Challenging Norms and Narrations: Family Planning and Social Change in Europe

Hanna Meisel's picture
January 27, 2022 to January 28, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Women's & Gender History / Studies, Russian or Soviet History / Studies, Eastern Europe History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, Public History

Social change caused by industrialization and urbanization as well as by cultural and political modernization provoked a re-configuration of family conceptions. The demand to determine the number of offspring became a major political claim of women’s rights movements before it became part of “normality” within family life. “Family planning” as a practice was hence a result of value changes caused by social changes:
since then, it developed step-by-step from a significant individual practice to a human right. During social, political, and economic crises and periods of rapid social change, “family planning” has become a target of political attacks, for example as revealed by the new Polish anti-abortion law and discussion about sexual education.

Once again, women’s reproductive and sexual rights have become highly politicized, and the question of family planning has become a state interest rather than an individual choice. Today’s changes in political and social beliefs, challenges for gender equality, and obvious attacks on women’s reproductive rights suggest that understanding the past can help identify, analyze, and recommend tools to prevent such populist and undemocratic efforts.

The conference “Tracing Social Change: “Family Planning” since the 19th Century” aims to trace the social transformations which effected changes in the understanding of “family planning,” and thus of family conceptions, in East Central and Eastern Europe and aims to compare these changes and turning points with processes in Western Europe.


Thursday, January 27th

11 am
Elisa-Maria Hiemer, Heidi Hein-Kircher, Denisa Nešt’áková: Welcome and Introduction

11.15 am
Keynote: Isabel Heinemann (Münster): Family Planning, Reproductive Decision-Making und Health Feminism


12.30 am break

1.15-2.45 pm
Section I: Publicizing the Privacy (Motherhood on the Stage) / Breaking the taboo
Chair: Heidi Hein-Kircher

Antja Titze (Mannheim):
The global journey of a legal concept – Fetal Rights and Women`s. Lives in Ireland and Poland

Tryfonas Lemontzoglou (Athens):
“Revisiting the “Illegitimacy” Phenomenon: Evidence from the 20th Century Greek Censuses”

Jakub Gałęziowski (Warsaw):
Approaches to Survivors of Conflict Related Sexual Violence in Post-War Poland. Discourses in Polish Press: Political, Religious and Medical, 1945–1946

Natalia Shok (Moscow) , Nadezda Beliakova (Nishni Novgorod):
Plurality of Family Planning Concepts (Late Sowjet Period)

Discussion of the section’s focal points

2.45-3.30 pm break

3.30-5 pm


SECTION II: (Transcultural) Transitions of Knowledge and Norms
Chair: Elisa-Maria Hiemer

Allison Rodriguez (Hartford, CT):
“Mother, think of me”: Women and Mothers in the Upper Silesian Plebiscite Propaganda

Sylwia Kuzma-Markowska (Warsaw):
Conflicts and Interdependencies: Family Planning Narratives and Activisms in Interwar Poland

Eva Škorvanková (Bratislava):
Family Planning in Slovakia 1939–1945 and its Ideological Influences

Ieva Balčiūnė (Vilnius):
Motherhood and Family Planning Issues in the Soviet Lithuanian Magazine for Women “Tarybinė Moteris”

Discussion of the section’s focal points




9-10-30 am
SECTION III: Challenging "old" Norms: Between Science, Propaganda and Intimacy
Chair: Denisa Nešt’áková

Gábor Koloh (Szeged):
Socioeconomic and Cultural Determinants of Family Planning in Southern Transdanubia (Hungary), 19th Century

Dominika Kleinova (Pardubice):
She-Wolves and Children of the Night: Birth Control and Family Planning from the Perspective of Prostitutes in the Interwar Czechoslovakia

Fanni Svégel (Budapest):
From “Abortion Culture” to Family Planning. The Continuities and Discontinuities of Birth Control Regimes in 20th Century Hungary

Michael Zok (Warsaw):
“Love is a Battlefield”. Sexuality, Reproductive Rights, and Partnership as Areas of Conflict in Post-War Poland

Discussion of the section’s focal points

10.30-10.45 am break

10.45 – 11.15 am Concluding Remarks:
Chair: Ivana Dobrivojevic Tomić

Agata Ignaciuk (Granada):
Concluding Comment

Discussion on Comment

11.15-12.00 am
Elisa-Maria Hiemer, Heidi Hein-Kircher, Denisa Nešt’áková:
Final Discussion and further proceeding



Link to Webex Conference-Tool


Meeting-ID: 873 5825 6044
Kenncode: 249312

Contact Info: 

PD Dr. Heidi Hein-Kircher
Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe
Institute of the Leibnitz Association

Hanna Meisel
Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe
Institute of the Leibnitz Association


Contact Email: