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The University of Southampton

Buns in Ovens Event

13 March 2015
Hartley Suite

Event details

International Women's Day is celebrated every year on 8 March. Thousands of events are held throughout the world both to inspire women and celebrate achievements. The University of Southampton is pleased to again host a week-long programme of activities to mark this special event.

Our medical and cultural depiction of pregnancy is that of the 'baby in the tummy' or the 'bun in the oven'; a depiction in which a pregnant woman is a mere container within which a foetus resides. But is there more to pregnancy than bun-baking?

Such a depiction does not necessarily map onto the experience of pregnant women, nor does it adequately represent our best biomedical understanding of pregnancy. However, an account of pregnancy that takes seriously the messy, intertwined nature of pregnancy, raises interesting and difficult questions that challenge our core assumptions about what human individuals are, and how we relate to our mothers and our offspring.

Elselijn Kingma is a Lecturer in Philosophy, who originally studied medicine and psychology. Her research focuses on the nature of pregnancy, which is a historically neglected but fascinating philosophical question. Kingma believes that understanding pregnancy - the process by which each and everyone of us comes into existence - is essential for understanding what humans are, and essential for solving difficult ethical questions that arise during pregnancy and birth: whether pregnant women should be allowed to go against medical advice, for example.

This interactive session will introduce some of these research questions and ask participants to reflect on and perhaps challenge their own ideas, assumptions and experiences about pregnancy. It will also investigates whether thinking seriously about pregnancy (or a lack of it) can tell us something about the need for inclusivity and diversity in academic disciplines.

The talk should be of particular interest to staff and students working in the medical or health sciences, social sciences, or humanities. It should also fascinate anyone who has ever wondered whether there isn't more to pregnancy than bun-baking, has reflected on the strangeness of having once been inside their mother, or has stared in amazement at their now-weirdly-empty belly and the new life over there - wondering how the one was ever inside the other.

Book your place

Book a place now. Tea, coffee, cold drinks, fruit and buns (or close equivalent!) will be available.


This research is part of a project (run jointly with Dr Fiona Woollard) entitled 'Taking Pregnancy Seriously in Metaphysics, Ethics and Epistemology', sponsored by a University of Southampton 'Adventures in Research Grant'. The next event in this project is a workshop on 13th April.


Speaker Information

Elselijn Kingma

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