Understanding the practices around miscarriage
Dandelion Project January 2019 - January 2025
This project has received funding from the Wellcome Trust as part of a University Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Grant number: 212731).
The research explores the practices around pregnancy endings and their remains, including acts of forgetting and remembering, and asks what do these reveal about the status of foetuses, women and mothers in contemporary England?
Pregnancy endings provide opportunities to interrogate anthropological assumptions about the contemporary family, motherhood, personhood and kinship. To analyse this, I will focus on the practices in the aftermath of a pregnancy ending to understand what they reveal about the values afforded to the remains in different contexts (clinic, home, burial site, crematorium, grave site etc) and by different stakeholders. My research will explore how reactions to and practices around pregnancy endings and remains reflect wider cultural trends in the UK, particularly around motherhood as highly moralized and notions of foetal personhood. I ask how does grief (or the absence of it) intersect with the relationship of the materiality of the remains and the woman’s body.
The research involves in-depth, embedded and analytic ethnography at and Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit (EPAU) in England and other relevant sites.
- Project members
- Advisory Board
The project includes a group of academics and stakeholders who will help to inform the project throughout its duration.The Board consists of:
- By focusing on remains and associated rituals, as well their absence, work is being done by such practices will be interrogated.
- The physical matter of remains (both as part of the woman’s body and separate), but also emotional remnants (hope, anticipation, investment) of pregnancy endings will be explored.
- Explore how reactions to and practices around pregnancy endings reflect wider cultural trends in England including the contemporary context of ‘anxious reproduction’ (Faircloth and Gurtin 2017) and motherhood as highly moralized (Faircloth 2013; Taylor 2008; Gammeltoft 2007).
- Interrogate whether national guidance and local policy is in line with women’s requirements by considering complex and diverse expressions of pregnancy endings.
- Assess the relevant Human Tissue Authority (HTA) Guidance and local policy and contribute to revisions, if necessary.
- How does grief (or the absence of it) intersect with the relationship of the materiality of the foetus and the woman’s body.
- To widen the discussion of miscarriage to include remnants more broadly and the practices around them I explore both the materiality of remains and the imaginations linked to them.
- I seek to understand what practices reveal about the values afforded remains in different contexts (clinic, home, burial site, crematorium etc) and by different stakeholders.
- Updates and news
Health Research Authority Ethics approvals (IRAS Reference: 261330, Research and Development Reference: 14448, Research Ethics Committee Reference: 19/SC/0428) and subsequent site approvals were received in January 2020. Fieldwork/ data collection is now underway.