Institut für Empirische Kulturwissenschaften und Europäische Ethnologie

Links und Funktionen



Aktuelle Forschung

(De)Constructing Abortion Stigma. Reproductive Rights, Body Politics and Aesthetics of (Anti)Feminist Activism in Europe

Currently, laws and policies concerning reproduction remain a top-button issue and a moving target in Europe. While some countries are overturning long-standing abortion bans and expanding abortion rights, others are moving to restrict access to abortion while fueling the public contestation, tabooing and stigmatization of abortion. When a whole body of scholarship is devoted to abortion legislation, policies or access, abortion stigma is still undertheorized, poorly researched or referred to only in a piecemeal fashion. In order to fill this research gap, this project introduces the concept of abortion stigma (de)construction. It shifts the understating of abortion stigma from a static attribution to a processual phenomenon, and reconceptualizes it as a: (1) discursive field of conflict, (2) manifestation of power relations within (trans)national „culture wars,” (3) body of gender knowledge production and governance, (4) emotional strategy of social activism and counteractivism, and (5) aesthetic practice in popular media, culture and art. Overall, it implements the methodology of a comparative movement-countermovement-based ethnographic analysis of abortion stigma (de)construction, and by focusing on four European Union (EU) member states: Germany, Ireland, Croatia and Poland, it is designed to: (1) understand the constellations of actors, logics, arguments and conflicts within the European ‚pro-choice’ and ‚pro-life’ opposition and its impact on abortion (de)stigmatization; (2) track modes and genres of abortion stigma (de)construction through discourses, symbols, language, aesthetics and emotions; (3) investigate the microsocial moments of (de)stigmatization processes in local and national settings within the European West-East division; and (4) their embeddedness in postsocialist, neoliberal and macrosocial power relations in the nexus of state, church and social movements activism. This project recognizes the need for comparative, actor-centered and evidence-based work intersecting research on biopolitics; abortion governance; body politics; women’s, feminist and (trans)national (counter)movements; emotion and aesthetics. Finally, the movement-countermovement-based approach seeks to contribute to debates on public, moral, engaged and dark anthropology. While giving insights into current conjunctures of abortion (de)stigmatization processes and their tangible manifestations on and between different sociocultural and geopolitical scales and axes, it discusses issues related to moral, emotional and ethical challenges of doing research in highly sensitive fields between social ‚extremes’ and the resulting implications for knowledge production, public outreach and political debates. The intended project’s outcome includes a series of scientific articles, a collaborative conference at the intersection of scientific research and social activism, an (online) exhibition and an edited volume.