Medicine at the Borders of Life is a research programme that joins scholars from several disciplines to explore controversies and emerging values surrounding the uses of fetuses for medical knowledge production, vaccine and pharmaceutical development in Sweden over a long historical period. The programme, which is funded by the Swedish Research Council and is hosted by the Department of History of Science and Ideas at Uppsala University, began in 2015 and will run for six years. Planned outputs are peer-reviewed articles, monographs, an edited volume, and the organization of a series of national and international workshops and conferences.

Maja Bondestam has published De utomordentliga: Normaliseringen av monster och naturens utkant 1600–1830 (Makadam).

Morag Ramsey has been awarded Bengt I Lindskog History of Medicine Award for her dissertation The Swedish Abortion Pill: Co-producing Medical Abortion and Values, ca. 1965-1992 (2021).

Helena Tinnerholm Ljungberg has co-edited a special issue on "How Ethics Travels: The International Development of Research Ethics Committees in the Late Twentieth Century” in European Journal for the History of Medicine and Health. Read more.

12 February, 2022. Helena Franzén defends her PhD dissertation Kroppar i förvandling: Obstetriska och embryologiska samlingar vid Uppsala universitet, ca 1830–1930 (title in transl.: Bodies in transformation: Obstetrical and embryological collections at Uppsala University, ca 1830–1930). External examiner is Professor Lena Lennerhed, Södertörns högskola. The event is in Swedish. Read more

Scandinavian Journal of History has published Helena Franzén’s article "‘The precious material’: Obtaining human fetal bodies for an embryological collection at Uppsala University, ca 1890–1930". Access here

13 March, 2021. Morag Ramsey defends her dissertation The Swedish Abortion Pill: Co-Producing Medical Abortion and Values, ca. 1965–1992 at Uppsala University. External examiner is Professor Jean-Paul Gaudillière, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale and Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris. Read more

Amsterdam University Press has published Exceptional Bodies in Early Modern Culture: Concepts of Monstrosity Before the Advent of the Normal edited by Maja Bondestam. This book explores prodigious births, maternal imagination, hermaphrodites, collections of extraordinary things, powerful women, disabilities, controversial exercise, shapeshifting phenomena and hybrids in a period before all varieties and differences became normalized to a homogenous standard. Read more

1 October, 2020. We proudly present Icon: A historical documentary, produced by the film collective Don’t Stop the Motion in collaboration with Medicine at the Borders of Life. With generous funding from Riksbankens jubileumsfund; the Department of History of Science and Ideas, Uppsala University; Ottarfonden; and Stiftelsen Fritt Ord. (In Swedish with English subtitles).

28 November, 2019. The animated short film Icon, produced by the film collective Don’t Stop the Motion in collaboration with Medicine at the Borders of Life, is launched in Norway with an evening at the Medical Museum in Oslo on the theme “The unborn: The fetus between culture, science and politics”. There will be film screening, panel discussions and a presentation of the museum’s preparations. More information here.

28–29 May, 2019. International workshop: Research ethics committees: Origins, development, and beyond. Keynote addresses by Adam Hedgecoe, Cardiff University, and Noortje Jacobs, Erasmus Medical Centre Rotterdam. Uppsala University. Read more (Photo: Monkeys at the State Bacteriological Laboratory, 1950. Source: Stockholmskällan.)

May 15, 2019. Public lecture: Professor emeritus Barbara Duden, Leibniz University Hannover: ”Visualizing the Unborn in the Gaze of the Scientist: Perspectives from a Body Historian”. Time: 6.15-8 PM. Venue: Humanistiska teatern, Campus Engelska Parken, Uppsala University. Read more.

15–17 May, 2019. International workshop: The coming of age of the public fetus: Exploring pregnant and fetal bodies in visual culture. Keynote addresses by Barbara Duden, Leibniz University Hannover, and Manon Parry, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam. Location: Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. Read more. (Photo: Sex education poster, ca. 1900. Source: Vänersborgs museum.)

3 December, 2018. Workshop: History of medicine today. Keynote addresses by Ericka Johnson, Linköping University, and Anne Kveim Lie, Oslo University. Location: Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. Read more (in Swedish). (Photo: Stewen Quigley. Medicinhistoriska museet.)

25–26 September, 2018. International workshop: Valuations of Life: Birth defects, prenatal diagnoses, and disability. Keynote by Professor Susanne Klausen, Carleton University, Canada. Location: Uppsala University. Read more

8–9 February, 2018. National conference in Medical Humanities and Social Sciences. Keynotes by Felicity Callard (Birkbeck, University of London) and Jeremy Greene (Center for Medical Humanities and Social Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine). Location: The Humanities Theatre, Uppsala University. Read more (in Swedish)

Congratulations to Isabelle Dussauge, who has been awarded a Riksbanken Jubileumsfond production grant for an animated short film about historical and contemporary understandings of the fetus, abortion and the origin of life. "The Fetus" is a collaboration between Medicine and the Borders of Life and the award-winning film collective Don‘t Stop The Motion.

In connection to the workshop Extraordinary bodies in early modern nature and culture at Uppsala University in October 2017, Maja Bondestam hosted an episode of Vetenskapsradion Historia for Sveriges Radio. Listen to the podcast (in Swedish).

14 December, 2017. Research seminar: Boel Berner, Linköping University, "The truth about fatherhood, via the blood. ‘Unscrupulous’ women, blood group analysis, and paternity cases during the Interwar years". Time: 1.15–3.00 PM. Location: English Park Campus, Rausing room, Uppsala. Read more

23–24 November, 2017. International workshop: Vaccines: Values, present and past, Uppsala University. Read more. (Photo: Herman Ronninger)

9 November, 2017. Research seminar: Christer Nordlund and Madeleine Hayenhjelm, Umeå University, "The new gene editing technology CRISPR/Cas9 – potentially revolutionary for both good and evil?". Time: 1.15–3.00 PM. Location: English Park Campus, Rausing room, Uppsala. Read more

26–27 October, 2017. International workshop: Extraordinary bodies in early modern nature and culture, Uppsala University. Read more 

14 September, 2017. Research seminar: Eira Bjørvik, Oslo University, "Infertility and the Nordic welfare state, ca 1950–1970". Time: 10.15–12.00 PM. Location: English Park Campus, Rausing room, Uppsala. Read more

30 May, 2017. Guest talk: Nancy Tomes, Stony Brook University, "Public health preparedness in the age of Zika and other emerging diseases". Time: 1.15–3.00 PM. Location: English Park Campus, Rausing room, Uppsala. Read more

28 April, 2017. Research seminar: Mette N. Svendsen, Iben M. Gjødsbøl, Mie S. Dam and Laura E. Navne, University of Copenhagen: "Humanity at the edge: The moral laboratory of feeding precarious lives". Time: 10.15 AM–3.00 PM. Location: English Park Campus, Rausing room, Uppsala. Read more

21 March, 2017. Research seminar: Karin Sennefelt and Anton Runesson, Stockholm University, "The word made flesh: The body in protestant culture, 1600–1750". Time: 1.15–5.00 PM. Location: English Park Campus, Rausing room, Uppsala. Read more

16 Februari, 2017. Research seminar: Sunniva Engh, Oslo University, "Scandinavian aid to South Asian population control, 1950–1995: Modernity misconceived". Time: 1.15–3.00 PM. Location: English Park Campus, Rausing room, Uppsala. Read more

27 January, 2017. Solveig Jülich will participate in the workshop, The Contested History of Hormone Pregnancy Tests. Time: 10.00 AM–5.00 PM. Location: Buckingham House Lecture Theatre, Cambridge. Read more

14 December, 2016. Project presentation: Tony Gustafsson, Uppsala University, “Sexual offence, homosexuality and societal threat: A study of Swedish castration policy, 1944–1973”. Time: 1.15–3.00 PM. Location: English Park Campus, 7-0017, Uppsala.

12 December, 2016. Research program presentation: Solveig Jülich, Helena Franzén and Morag Ramsey, “Medicine at the borders of life", Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics, Uppsala University. Time: 1.00–2.30 PM. Location: Biomedicinskt centrum, Boström room, Uppsala.

16 November, 2016. Seminar: "Studying medicine, ethics and values". Invited speakers: Kristin Zeiler and Lisa Guntram, Linköping University. Time: 1.15–5.00 PM. Location: English Park Campus, Rausing room, Uppsala.

24 October, 2016. Workshop: Evidence-based medicine, methodology and boundary work. Time: 1.15–5.00 PM. Location: Museum Gustavianum, Uppsala. Read more (in Swedish).

7 June, 2016. Research seminar: Jesse Olszynko-Gryn, University of Cambridge: “From patients to consumers: A history of pregnancy testing in Britain”, Uppsala University. Read more.

14 April, 2016. Workshop: Medical humanities at Uppsala University. Read more (in Swedish).

27–28 October, 2015. International workshop: Abortion in the Nordic countries: New historical perspectives, approaches and issues, Uppsala University. Read more.